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JOEL Joel's Blog

Ron Hock - When I Grow Up

06/02/2010 Part 1 of a Series

Ron Hock - When I Grow Up 4I sent the following questions to some of the movers and shakers in the woodworking industry:

1 - When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? Do you remember what attracted you to your goals?
2 - How did your goals as a kid translate - if they did - into what you are doing professionally now?

I think the answers I got were really instructive and maybe helpful for those we know who are pursuing a dream. Let's let the people speak for themselves. Here is the first entry by toolmaker Ron Hock. Ron is one of the pioneers in the modern woodworking tool revolution, and introduced after-market plane irons and other tools that easily outperform the originals. He is also the author of the book The Perfect Edge.

Ron Hock-
I was gonna be an artist! Dabbled, with no training, as a kid, never really planning on pursuing it. I always loved the materials themselves and would push paint and splatter stuff around with glee and abandon. I never took art classes in high school as I looked through the art classroom door and saw nothing there that really interested me. Already a snob.

Being a bright math-head, with an engineer for a father, I continued on the math/science/engineering school track into college (U.C. Irvine) until I took a painting class to round out my breadth requirements. You could almost hear the course change as my educational vessel hove to a new tack -- I became an art major. Loved it. Got my B.A., worked in Dad's sheet metal shop for a few months. Hating that, I applied and was accepted to the graduate program at UCI and received my M.F.A. in studio art. I did this and that while living in a warehouse/studio in So Cal but success as an artist seemed to require more politics than talent and I had little of the former (gobs of the latter, just ask me), and got seduced away from the life by a salaried job. That lasted two years or so (a long, sad story about why sons shouldn't work for their fathers)
after which I found myself looking for something that I could make and sell. Artisanal knives put me on the local radar, prompting a visit from the Krenovians and once again, my little boat was pulled to a new heading. It's been blades for woodworking ever since.

For me, it's always been about facture -- the making of things. Art school was a way to go to college and make things -- things that were only in my head until I made them. So today, while I make little that would be called "art", I still dearly love making things. In my line of work, the cookies for me are the new products, the production engineering -- the facture.

Picture: Our studio in Costa Mesa in April of '79. Just out of grad school, the artists' life. A year or so later I sold out, took a job with my father and bought a house in Monrovia. Two more years later we sold the family business and Linda and I moved to the house in Fort Bragg where we still live.
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The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.