Tools for Working Wood

 Joel's Blog at Tools for Working Wood

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
 Built-It Blog
 Work Magazine
 Classes & Events
Recent Blogs:
To Much of a Muchness-10/26/2016
Long Planes in the Modern Workshop-10/19/2016
CBN Wheels - The Next Generation of Grinding Technology-10/12/2016
English Patternmaker's Paring Chisels-10/05/2016
Wisner Tool-09/28/2016
Krenov Quality Plane Irons-09/14/2016
Gabba Gabba Hey!-08/17/2016
Summer News!-08/10/2016
The Unisphere-08/03/2016
A Walk Up Fourth Avenue-07/31/2016
The Joiner and Cabinetmaker - Free Downloads-07/27/2016
Chisel Detective-07/13/2016
Chairs from China-07/06/2016
Architectural Woodwork and a Look at Thomas Moser-06/29/2016
Two New Books for Tool Collectors-06/22/2016
Which Festool Sander Should I Get? - Updated-06/15/2016
A Thrilling Visit to the Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts-06/08/2016
Physical Graffiti-06/01/2016
Sharpening With Diamond Stones - Conclusions-05/25/2016
YouTube: Woodworking In Asia-05/18/2016
Older Entries...