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Thread: Creeker interview: Steve Wargo

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Plano, TX

    Creeker interview: Steve Wargo

    1. Name (and nick names)
    Steve Wargo

    2. Age/DOB
    34 November 18, 1971

    3. Location (present and previous):

    Born and raised in Huron, Ohio and then spent a
    portion of time in Norfolk, VA while stationed in the
    Navy. Now I live in a southwest suburb of Cleveland,
    Ohio. GO TRIBE!

    4. Tell us about your family:
    Iíve been married for 10 year to my lovely wife
    Christine, and we have 2 boys, Brendan (8 years old)
    and Trevor (5 years old)

    5. How do you earn a living, woodworking or other, any
    interesting previous occupations?

    I recently changed jobs. Went from being a contractor
    to a full-fledged FAA employee. I will be working on
    our long range RADAR system. Iím a part time furniture
    maker working primarily on commission and get to spend
    about 22-28 hours a week in the shop. I also teach out
    of the shop. I hold classes for groups, and also
    private instructions. I enjoy teaching probably as
    much as building furniture.

    6. Equipment overview (hand tools and other):
    I own a Laguna BS, Inca jointer/planer (with Tersa
    Head), and a big old 1920ís American Diamond Machine
    Co. Lathe. I cut most joinery by hand, and own a slew
    of LN planes, and English moulding planes. I try to
    finish all surfaces by plane, but sometimes itís just
    not feasible.

    7. Describe your shop:
    My shop is a small 2-car garage. Nothing special. I
    have a nice sized bench in the center and tons of wall
    hanging cabinets around the space. Itís always clean.
    I hate tripping over things or tracking shavings into
    the house. I have veneer and lumber storage outside
    and in my wife's garage.

    8. Tell us about the hand planes you own, and your
    favorite one(s) to use:

    My favorite planes that I own would be my LN 60 1/2
    and a couple special molding planes. I do have a
    complete have set of Preston H/Rís bedded at 50
    degrees with skewed irons. Theyíre right up there near
    the top.

    9. You favorite chisels:
    While I use my Two Cherries for about everything, I
    also use a few oldies that I use for paring. But my
    favorite chisels are the set of Stanley 750ís that my
    grandfather gave me. Complete set of 8, with all the
    labels on the handles. Very nice.

    10. Your favorite handsaw(s):
    I guess that my favorite hand saw would be the LN
    crosscut saw that Iím currently using to cut the bulk
    of my joinery. Cuts fast and feels good in the hand.
    But my big Disston crosscut comes in a close second.

    11. Do you use western tools or Japanese, why do you
    prefer the ones you use:

    I prefer western tools, but I will admit that the
    Japanese crosscut saws work much faster than the old

    12. Do you have a woodworking home page:
    Iíve done the page myself, and spent a lot of time
    getting it just right. Anyone with some inputs on it
    or suggestions please let me know. Iím always open to
    suggestions. Now for the nameÖ Mad Hunky Workshop,
    LLC. Iím Hungarian, and when I was younger my
    grandfather always affectionately called me a ďdumb
    HunkyĒ. Since my wife always thought me to be a bit
    mad, I just kind of went with it. By no means is it a
    way of calling myself a hunk. That couldnít be further
    from reality.

    13. Do you have any influences in your work? Certain
    styles or designers you follow/prefer:

    I really like federal period furniture, but simply
    lack the attention span to do a true reproduction. Iím
    greatly influenced by the work of Garrett Hack. Having
    the opportunity to spend some time with him, I went
    over all of his pieces looking for errors. After being
    unable to find any I was quite disheartened. That
    pushed me and made me realize that it is possible to
    make a perfect piece with hand tools. Iíve pretty much
    tried to get to that point in the last three years,
    pushing myself to get that piece that I can actually
    say is ďperfectĒ. Still working on that, but Iím
    almost there.

    14. Do you have any ancestors who were woodworkers
    that served as inspiration?

    When I was younger I remember working with my Dad. He
    couldnít cut two boards the same length to save his
    life. Now he borrows tools from me. He did teach me
    what not to do. Thanks Dad.

    15. What is your favorite neander project, or part of
    a project, you have ever done and why:

    I donít have a particular project that is my favorite,
    but cutting molding is my favorite thing to do in the
    shop. I just love it. I enjoy sharpening the irons,
    and setting them just so. I like to do complex
    profiles with hollows and rounds. I just love

    16. Do you believe there is any spiritual dimension to
    woodworking with hand tools:

    No, Iím not a very spiritual person.

    17. How much of your work is done by hand tools. Do
    you use whatever is best for the job or do you use
    hand tools even when they are less efficient:

    I do use whatever is best for the job, but a lot of
    the time that is hand tools. I use the jointer to
    surface joint, the thickness planer on stuff thinner
    than 10Ē. I use the band saw to rough everything out,
    and a router to do the bulk of my mortises. But other
    than that most of the work is done by hand. I donít
    use them for any reason other than I think they work
    well. I cut dovetails by hand because there are
    patterns and design that canít be duplicated with
    machines. I plane my surfaces because there is a
    difference. Iím probably as ďOld SchoolĒ as a
    youngster can get.

    18. What is your single most favorite tool, and why.
    The LN 60 Ĺ is probably my favorite and most used. But
    I use a #5 an awful lot too. I use it for about
    everything except final surface finish.

    Steve Wargo - Cabinetmaker

  2. Nice interview. A look at Steve’s website tells you he is a great craftsman, as do his posts here on SMC.
    Rob Millard

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Steve's work is incredible and it's good to get to know him better.

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Laguna Beach , Ca.
    Steves work is amazing...simple designs....flawless execution! The truly amazing part is he is only 34! Work at this level is rare among woodworkers of this or any speaks of his dedication to the craft
    "All great work starts with love .... then it is no longer work"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    South Carolina
    And Steve is just a nice guy as well! I will confirm his love of teaching woodworking, and he has the knack for doing it as well.

  6. #6
    I confess to very rarely visiting this part of the creek, but glad I did. Nice interview and beautiful website Steve. Wonderful pieces.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    KC, MO
    Steve has always been very generous in helping me out!!! He loves to teach - and his work is certainly outstanding!! Great interview for a great guy!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Columbia, SC
    Nice to get to know you Steve. I've enjoyed your posts here and always learn something from them.

    We share a little radar background. I was in air defense artillery in the 60s and was responsible for one of our then "cutting edge" mobile HIPARs (high power acquisition radars). It was a monster. It was indeed mobile; we hauled it around on 5 semi trailers and it took about a week to set up and calibrate. I imagine things have changed in 40 years.

    I look forward to your continued posts on this board.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Etobicoke, Ontario

    Seeing the work you do with veneers is almost pushing me over the edge to try using them on my next project...almost... Thanks for sharing your projects with us...and keep us posted on all your adventures out west!!!
    Louis Bois
    "and so it goes..." Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

  10. #10
    Thanks for the kind words everyone. It is a pleasure to be a member of Samill Creek and give a little more information about myself to all of you. It's also a joy to be in contact with so many of this forum's members. I've gained some great knowledge from this forum, and like to think that I've contributed a little as well.
    "When we build, let us think that we build forever." - Ruskin

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Bakerville, CT

    You must be proud - and rightfully so! I've admired your work since discovering SMC and am delighted to have learned a little bit about you. Thanks!

    In peace, Todd

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Philadelphia, Pa
    Nice interview, Steve. I am a little surprised that you did not claim honors for having invented a new use for quartered MDF, but I suppose it is your modesty and quuiet demeanor that intervened.

    Congrats on your new appointment with the FAA. May you be blessed with annual leave, and may acronmyns abound.
    Alan Turner
    Philadelphia Furniture Workshop

  13. #13
    Quiet down, I'm applying for the patent as we speak.
    "When we build, let us think that we build forever." - Ruskin

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Grand Marais, MN. A transplant from Minneapolis
    Nice to meet you Steve.
    We are glad to have a dedicated talent in the FAA club .
    Live Like You Mean It.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    It really is nice to meet Steve. We had dinner last night and I can confirm all the nice things everybody has said. I really enjoyed the conversation.


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