Woodworking in America: Curtiss “Buck” Carr

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We are interviewing producers from all 50 states. Today we introduce Curtiss “Buck” Carr, a carpenter currently intern at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in Indiana.

How did you start working with wood? Who were your mentors?
I started woodworking doing general DIY projects with my dad. We always spent Saturday mornings watching The Woodwroght’s Shop (I’m a huge Mr. Underhill fan), The New Yankee Workshop and This Old House on PBS. Woodworking became an obsession, later than most, in my adult life. I am mostly self-taught and gravitate towards using hand tools. My mentor right now is Elliot Driscoll of Driscoll Woodshop; a nonprofit organization in Baltimore, MD. Her store is doing a lot for the Baltimore community, providing shop and classroom spaces to people recovering from substance use and mental health disorders. Elliot taught me the ins and outs of running a wood shop: machine safety, machine maintenance, teaching others, and the value of a good shop dog. Currently, I am an intern at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking and Time Honored Craft. The school’s staff, instructors and students have been excellent mentors as I dive deeper into the craft.

What do you think is your best or favorite job? What kind of work do you do the most?
My favorite work at the moment is stacked furniture, especially the making of chairs like Christopher Schwarz’s Anarchist Design Book at Lost Art Press. I use every chance of using hand tools, so this makes it my favorite. I would like to create a Jennie Alexander chair in honor of my friend, a member of the board of directors of Driscoll Woodshop, and Jennie’s daughter, Harper Alexander-Burke. I find it satisfying to break a wooden log by hand, turning it into flat planks and then finally into something that someone really likes to use.

What advice would you give to those who want to start woodworking or take it up as a profession?
The advice I would give to someone who is just getting into woodworking is to start with a simple set. You don’t need a lot of tools to get things done. Take lessons. Search the Internet. There are tons of online videos and in-person training courses available.

What’s your best practical advice or woodworking technique?
My best practical advice is to keep your tools sharp! I pledge to take one day of the week to sharpen all my tools, even if I sharpen them as I work. Second, don’t point out mistakes in your designs. Let people appreciate what you have done. Only you care about having to insert a spline into a loose dovetail joint to close a gap.

Is there anyone you would like to shout out or would you recommend following? Who inspires you? (It doesn’t even have to be related to woodworking.)
A non-profit that supports those recovering from mental health disorders and substance abuse.

The Black Artisans Digital Archive is dedicated to telling the stories of the Black Artisans and the objects they created.

They have been rescuing dogs from Kuwait to Baltimore, MD since 2015. To date, they have rescued over 600 dogs (including my three dogs).

The honest carpenter
My friend Ethan from college. is a great carpenter who provides good advice to homeowners and DIYers, from home repairs to woodworking projects.

See more of Buck’s work on Instagram @curtisscarr.

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