who are your top five most influential woodworkers?

Who are the top five woodworkers who've influenced your work, and what was their influence?

I asked over in WoodNet and made a list of over 80 different woodworkers the members there cited as influential... here are their top 7 so far:

1) Norm Abram 27 votes
2) Dad 14 votes (some great personal stories here...)
3) David Marks 13 votes
4) woodnetters 10 votes
5) Granpa 9 votes (more great stories here...)
6) shop teacher 7 votes
7) James Krenov 6 votes

Note I don't mean in terms of style necessarily - I think Norm won out because it was through his show that so many woodworkers said "I could do that..." Also he was a big influence on folks to buy woodworking tools.

2 items of note:
I will definitely be likely to quote someone on influences, and at the least will be unscientifically polling who your top five are and putting them in my list.

My intention is to create another "ultimate guide" like the safety guide but this one targeting great - and not so well known but still influential - woodworkers.

If it looks like I'm making things up as I go along... you're right! For example - I kinda sorta asked this question already in the woodworker interviews project thread...

...And yes, I will be going after some of the woodworkers on the list for my interviews once those get rolling :D

I look forward to reading who YOUR top five most influential woodworkers are! (and NO it doesn't have to be just five... it can be more or less :)
1.) My first boss other than my dad, His name is Charles Rassmussen. Whenever it was too nasty to be framing houses we'd come back to the shop and I'd watch him make stuff. Later on when I became a builder on my own, I'd still stop by Charlies on those nasty days and see what he is building.

2.) Although my grandpa died when I was only 10, I can remember going out to his shop and seeing what he was working on. My grandpa not only was a farmer but also a sawyer and a builder. Some of his work still stands around the County today in the way of old timber framed barns.

3.) But like most people my top choice is my Dad... He is 82 and still stays busy with his interests. Dad taught 4-H woodworking for years here in the town I live in. He always told me that when it came to finish work I needed to find a slower gear. My dad to this day comes over to my shop to watch me (see how things turn around from me watching them?) and lend a hand when I need one. Dad passed the woodworking tools his dad gave him on to me about two years ago, and although I am not (now) a Neander I have the utmost pride and respect for those few old tools dad passed to me that were once my Grandpas.

4.) Norm...who hasn't watched him and felt inspired.

5.) Not to single out fellow forumites here....but I am amazed at the many members on here that have helped me and others improve our skills in woodworking.
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In order, they are:

1) My Dad (Christopher Pellow) was the most influential –he welcomed me both into the shop and on construction projects as long as I can remember –and that’s when I was 4. Dad gave me real projects and real responsibilities and kids know when that it the case. You can’t fool them with make work projects.

2) My Uncle Scott (Thomson). My dad died when I was 13 (I was the oldest of 4 children) and Uncle Scott stepped in to help me in many ways. Through him, I learned not to be afraid to tackle anything. We worked together on a number of renovation projects where, at the start, neither of us had a clue as to what the job entailed.

3) My maternal grandfather (Frank Rosseter) who taught both Uncle Scott and me how to conduct proper research before tackling a project and how to prototype the most difficult and/or dangerous parts. Granddad also had a shop where I was a wanted guest and where he patiently taught me proper hand tool skills.

4) Several fellow woodworkers on the internet. I started to use the internet for woodworking assistance about four years ago and could easily list 50 things that I have learned on various forums.

5) Danny Proulx. He is the only popular author that I have learned very much from. I have 6 of his books and will probably buy more. Danny was (I say was because he died about four years ago) a great writer and was very practical. His books contain items of varying degrees of difficulty, so there is something there for everyone and lots of room to grow your skills.
Wow, tough acts to follow.

  • Dad would need to be at the top.
  • Next would be the Greene brothers (or, the shop that executed their designs),
  • Gustav Stickley,
followed by
  • Norm. Then, in no particular order,
  • Darrell Peart,
  • Mario Rodriguez,
  • Robert Lang.
Now, that's sure to set a few people off!

Actually, it's my love of A&C that leads me to those choices. Come back in 5 years and I might change my style and have a new list! Ya never know!
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The woodworkers who most influenced me would be as follows. My father with a limited amount of general carpentry. Norm influenced my general carpentry skills and building furniture. David Marks inspired me in building furniture with more of an artisan flair using non-wood materials, different styles and unusual methods.
Here is my list:
1. Uncle (neighbor not related) - that lived around the corner where I grew up
2. Norm Abram - Been watching since his first day on TOH
3. James Krenov - One of the finest craftsman I have seen
4. David Marks - A nice guy with a lot of talent
5. Mark Singer - He does some cool stuff with wood
1. My grandpa, never got to work with him much but I was always interested in what he was doing. I've got a bunch of his old tools.
2. My father in law, spent loads of time with him working on everything from fencing to fine woodworking. A patient man he was
3. Norm
4. Mack Hackworth, former co-worker. Mack hacks out a lot of stuff but he sure knows his machinery.
5. Like some others have mentioned, the numerous friends that I've found on the internet since first participating in woodworking discussions over 10 years ago. It's hard to believe it's been that long.
I've only got three.

2 of my high school shop teachers.
I took everything I could in shop, including three years of woodworking.
Those 2 teachers could build, do anything.
From plywood speed boats to jewelry boxes.

Third on my list, now gone sad to say, was one of my uncles.
He was another that could make, do anything in wood. He mainly did restoration work.
I am the first woodworking in my family and have never had the chance to learn from anyone else first hand. Self taught mostly.

But Norm, naturally. Like everyone I have watched him and learned things from him.

Countless craftsman and hackers on the forums, web sites. magazines, TV etc. that are nameless.

Stickly, Greene and Greene and many others of the Arts and Crafts era. Many of whom names are long forgotten but their work is still here.
how about
Roy Underhill?
shop teacher
Stu, I haven't seen any of his work but I like the ideas he comes up with:thumb:
Phillip Dillon (he's still dead) was my first High School WWing Teacher. Then there was Ralph Whalen (also still dead) Who was my mentor in College.
Glen Wallenhampt (he shoud be dead but I don't know) was a fellow teacher who taught me to deal with (not so productive) students.
Well, I'll jump in here.

My Dad, Doug Ablett, he was an electrician, who took a government job as an electrical inspector, he also taught code classes for about 25 years, to the guys who wanted to become contractors. My Dad would tackle just about anything, and my mother was always there holding the other end of the board. When I was about 5, I very much remember we had a wall between the dinning room and the living room, one Sunday morning Dad, my older brother and I went to the lumber yard, we picked up a nice 2x12 and some nice 2x6s, and some stain and nails etc.

We came home and my Dad laid out the hole on the wall he was going to cut, got out his trusty Skill saw (he still has it, I think) and cut along the lines and pushed the hole out of the wall, I was just amazed!!!! He put the 2x12 on the bottom, kind of a bar, and the 2x6 on the sides, nailed them, puttied them and then stained them, now we could sit in the dining room and see the living room (you know, where the TV was :rofl: ).

That was a pivotal point in my young life, as I then understood that if you don't like the surroundings, change them! :D

I've been doing that ever since!

Next would be my maternal Grand father, Ross Loyst, he passed before I could learn a lot from him, but he did teach me a few important things, "Why is there always enough time to do it right the SECOND time" was one he hammered into my young skull full of mush. He was a skilled self taught craftsman.

Next would be my Uncle Mel Loyst. He was my second Dad growing up, I was always up at his place, with my cousins Dan and Jim, riding dirt bikes, and snow machines, hunting and fishing and working. We cut a lot of firewood, and Uncle Mel taught me how to work, how to work so darn hard your bone hurt and how to take pride in that. If you know how to work hard and be proud of your work, you will never go hungry. He taught me how to safely use a chainsaw, and how to keep it sharp. He taught me how to deal with many work related problems, if you screwed up (and as a kid, I did that a lot) he got mad at you once, told you what you did wrong, how to fix it, how to not do it again, and then he N-E-V-E-R mentioned it again (unless you did it again).

Next would be old CJ Herbert over at TWW, I've known John online since 1996, when we met on the old forum, the Oak, Kip's place. CJ has his own opinions on stuff, but he does what works for him, and he does some amazing work, for sure.

I missed the TV woodworker thing, so while I know who "Norm" is I think I've only seen one or two of his shows. I did get to see a number of Roy Underhill's shows, that guy is amazing.

Otherwise, there are a lot of very kind and helpful skilled people here and at other places that have helped me a lot!


PS Donald, don't do much "Work" as I'm still building my workshop and or tools :doh: :D

1. My dad who told me that every peice that you make is your signature. People will know you by your work

2. David Marks. Who is as much an artist as a woodworker.

3. Sam Maloof. WOW

Every work is a part of who you are, it tells the people who look at it something about you. even if it is a simple table.

To me thats what makes woodworking awesome.

It is the feel and the smell of the wood, it is the problem solving , the creating, and the knowing that as you progress as a woodworker that the journey is the never ending and keeps you feeling alive.

oh well I'll shut up now.
I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but I haven't had much influence from anyone. My dad wasn't around much. My school didn't teach woodshop. I wish I had the inspiration to get into woodworking as a much younger man. I just started it in my mid forties. Pretty much self taught with books and magazines. And, of course, lots of help from folks like you all:thumb:
My first shop teacher, Stanley Berard, who taught me from 8th grade (about 1958) to high school senior. He was very patient with us beginners, always offering encouragement. Still alive and kicking. I still communicate with him. He's still doing woodworking. Attached is a picture of Prof Berard from about 1960. Shop teachers wore ties in those days.

My present shop teacher, Robert Thornbury, (at Cerritos College) who knows how to solve any woodworking problem, and is very patient with students.

Norm - for keeping me interested until I could get some "real" tools of my own. I built my first two furniture pieces with nothing more than a cheap electric drill and circular saw. And they are still as stout and functional as the day I built them about 25 years ago.
David Marks - for showing me some valuable techniques.
George Reid (deceased) - for teaching me that I can continue this passion until the day I depart this world.
Marc Adams - for some very valuable lessons in such things as sharpening scrapers to making first rate cabriole legs.
Judy Ditmer (Master Turner) - for convincing me that I did indeed need a bigger lathe and inspiring me to keep pushing my knowledge envelope.