A Tree Falls in Brooklyn

I have always been intrigued by the relationship between woodworkers and trees.

I am reminded of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  The story of the relationship between a boy and a tree.  The boy grows up with with the tree. He would climb up the trunk of the tree and play with its branches, take its apples to sell, then its branches for his home, its trunk for a boat and eventually its stump as a stool to rest.

I grew up with a love of nature and especially of trees.  So complex and so beautiful.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

We live on Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The park was designed in 1867 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who also designed Central Park. It is the only forest in Brooklyn.  That’s right!  There is not only a tree in Brooklyn, but an entire forest!  The park is 585-acres and filled with the most incredible trees this country has to offer.  It contains mature trees that were chosen and planted by Olmsted himself.

The tree that grew in Brooklyn

The tree that grew in Brooklyn



Beautiful specimens create an incredible landscape for a leisurely stroll, weekend picnic or an escape from the bustle on the other side of the tree line.

Superstorm Sandy hit NY and NJ pretty hard and it certainly took its toll on the trees of Prospect Park, taking down some enormous trees that will never be able to fully be replaced in my lifetime.

photo 1-1



After the storm, the family walked through our neighborhood backyard to access the damage.

photo 1-3 photo 3-1




Nature is so incredible how it can turn on itself and take down such massive structures.




Our emotions were running high, having just come from the armory where they were collecting clothing, food and basic essentials for those left homeless from the storm.


photo 1-2



Seeing so many ancient trees torn out of the ground or cracked in half like kindling was surreal.


photo 2-3



As Brooklynite I was just sad, so many great memories lived surrounding these trees, but as a woodworker I was intrigued and the wheels were turning. It was like being at a  beautiful lumber yard.

photo 2-1

The kids and I counted the rings, just like the families before us.










Here was a hickory 36″ trunk, 12-16 feet long. Wow! What a table that would make!


Over there a beast sized piece of oak cut on each end of the crotch of multiple limbs. That would make some incredible bookmarked panels, and the turning possibilities are endless.






Street treesThe sad part, as a woodworker, I knew that all this incredible stock was going to be ground up and turned into mulch. While the park may be our “backyard”, we share it with 2.5 million neighbors!  And then there’s the whole issue of the back hoe down Flatbush.  I did, however, recently discover several NYC wood salvage companies, and found this article regarding the wood from the boardwalks in the Rockaways.

I think it’s time to plant a tree.


…and the tree was happy


A Hobby Hiatus

It’s been well over a month since I’ve hit the shop and it’s been at least two months since I’ve posted something here. I’ve been feeling guilty.

I’ve been blessed with a ton of work, lots of family time lately and we just returned from a long overdue vacation, not to mention the holidays.  Life is good! So why am I feeling guilty?

Chris Schwartz seems to have a new blog post in my inbox daily. Marc Spagnolo and Shannon Rogers post lessons nearly every week. Pros like Chris Wong or Rob Bois seem to not only crank out projects at an alarming rate, they somehow have the time to blog about them. Then there are all retired folks posting their recent triumphs. Why can’t I keep up with any if them?

Then I have to remind myself– they do this for a living (or now have their retirement days to enjoy), I do this as a HOBBY!! The moment it becomes overwhelming or stressful, its not a hobby anymore. When I tell people I do woodworking, the first words out of their mouth is “where do you find the time?”  At the moment I find myself asking the same question!

It is true that I usually have a ton my plate, but that is one of the reasons I deciding to pursue my interest in woodworking– stress relief! I love being in the shop and getting in the zone.  There is nothing like it.

Life is full and sometimes you just have to prioritize. Sometimes you need to take a break, a hiatus if you will.  Our recent  family vacation was long overdue.  The whole family just needed a break. All of us returned so energized and ready to conquer the world! I guess you even need to take a break from your hobbies.

Hopefully I can end my Hobby Hiatus in the following weeks and get back “work”!!