Profiles: David Picciuto

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on inspiration and being happy

A photographer found it too expensive to have his work framed and decided to make the frames himself. After buying a few tools and watching how-to videos, he found his calling. “I want to do woodworking videos and blogs, like these people do,” decided David Picciuto. Here are the highlights from my chat with the host of Make Something (formerly, The Drunken Woodworker), co-host of the podcast Making It, and author of two woodworking project books.

—Chad McClung

WC: How did Make Something get its start?

DP: I changed the name of the show to Make Something because it became my career. The whole Drunken Woodworker thing was a joke. Sixty percent of the reason for the name change came from an embarrassing moment when a 14-year-old kid introduced me to his dad as the “Drunken Woodworker.” The other forty percent was that I wanted to remove ‘woodworker’ from the title. I didn’t want to limit myself. I’m making titanium wedding rings. I’m doing leatherwork. I plan to get more into metalworking and electronics. I identify more with the maker crowd.

WC How do you survive your busy schedule?

 DP: When I was a teenager, my sister made fun of me for being lazy. That stuck with me, and I guess I’m trying to make up for that now. A few years ago, a switch flipped in my brain, and I wanted to create all the time. I’m excited by what I get to do every day. I still can’t believe that when I wake up, I don’t have to go work for somebody else; I get to do this. I’m always in search of having fun and trying to find things that make me happy. I don’t make as much money now, but I’m happier and stress-free.

WC: What tool gets the most use in your shop?

 DP: My computer. I start with a sketch on paper and then build a 3-D model on the computer. SketchUp and Fusion 360 are both free for students and non-professionals.

WC: Where do you find your inspiration?

DP: My wife and I love antiquing. I snap photos of things that I like to use for inspiration later. I’m drawn to old stereo consoles from the fifties and sixties.

 WC: Who has impacted your work the most?

 DP: Charles and Ray Eames are a huge influence on what I do. They were creative and good problem solvers. When this husband-and-wife team made a bunch of plywood furniture in the fifties, they had to learn how to form plywood in different shapes and then have it mass-produced. They had a great sense of design.

 WC: Do you have tips for beginners?

 DP: Don’t buy all the tools just yet. Decide what you want to build, and then buy the tools necessary to make that project. If your first project is a birdhouse, maybe all you need is a circular saw and a drill. Buy those tools and build that project. Your next project will require another tool. Buy it, and then build that project, and so on. That way you’re not spending too much money on tools that you may never use. Also, it’s important to calibrate your tools, so that you get square cuts and flat boards. Your projects will go together much easier down the line. And proper planning puts you on the path to success. But my best advice is, find what makes you happy.

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