Tools for Working Wood
Invest in your craft. Invest in yourself.

 Joel's Blog

Ron Hock - When I Grow Up  

06/02/2010 Part 1 of a Series

I 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.
Tags:Historical Subjects,Misc.
Comments: 0
Comments are closed.
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.
 Joel's Blog
 Video Roundup
 Classes & Events
 Built-It Blog
 Work Magazine
Recent Blogs:
David R. Russell - Some Thoughts on His Legacy - 04/18/2018
eBay Fraud - 04/11/2018
Blog Entry or Filler - You Decide! - 04/05/2018
Clamp Vs. Clamp - 03/21/2018
The Seaton Chest Revisited - 03/14/2018
Cræft by Alexander Langlands - 03/07/2018
News: much is happening here & OSMO is arriving! - 02/24/2018
Beautiful Cabinet Shop Space Available for Rent in Gowanus - 02/05/2018
Safety Last - 01/31/2018
I Am a Panda - 01/19/2018
The Unheated Workshop - 01/10/2018
How to Cut a Groove in a Frame By Hand and Without a Plow Plane - 12/27/2017
How to Mortise the Moxon Way: Part 2, Chopping the Mortise - 12/20/2017
How to Mortise the Moxon Way: Part 1, Layout and Cutting Tenons - 12/17/2017
Why Schlep? - A Look at Tools Baskets and Bags - 12/13/2017
Saw Sharpening Essentials - Gramercy Tools Saw Vise (Back in Stock) + Vallorbe Saw Files (They Finally Arrived) - 12/06/2017
How to Choose the Best Dovetail Saw for Yourself - 11/29/2017
Woodwork at City Hall - 11/22/2017
The Marquetry Plane Shows Up In England 1760-1780 - 11/15/2017
Joel's Blog Ten Ways I am Doing Things Differently - Part 4 - 11/08/2017
Older Entries...