The Joy of Making: Dave Perkins—Woodworker

Dave made these wooden “books” for an art exhibit in 2005 featuring author and illustrator Brett Helquist of Lemony Snicket. These opened up into an interactive play area.

Dave Perkins is our library mechanic. He’s responsible for making and repairing things, and helping to keep our facility running smoothly.

But Perkins also has a reputation for being able to make just about anything you ask him to, from play areas in the Children’s Library to exhibit props like our giant, interactive Lemony Snicket books from several years ago.

With such a skilled woodworker on hand, I wanted to know more about how he got started and what motivates him to create.

Heather Kearns: What kinds of things do you like to make and when did you become interested in woodworking? Why do you like wood?

David Perkins: Well, I used to make a lot of things out of wood when I had time and more energy. I’ve made toys and furniture. Things for the house and things for my children. I’ve made things for birthdays and Christmas. Things people can use. I was probably about 25 years old when I first started. I just enjoy coming up with ideas and putting things together. I work from my own designs. I start by drawing an idea out on paper and then just start working. I mostly work with pine, which is a soft wood, and sometimes I like to use cedar.

HK: How much time did it take you to make that beautiful kitchen cupboard?

Looking to divide the kitchen and dining room, Perkins created this cupboard—WOW!

DP: The kitchen cupboard was created to separate the dining room from the kitchen. It has doors on both sides and you can see through it through the glass. That took several weeks.

HK: Do you have a favorite wood?

DP: Just … (laughing) … cheap!

HK: Now that people know how talented you are, do you get requests from people to make stuff?

DP: I’ve had requests to build stuff for people. Like I said, I’ve built a lot of things for our home and for my four children. I’ve also sold some rocking chairs and small chairs for children.

HK: Do you have a piece that you’re most proud of?

DP: Probably the kitchen cupboards. That was a big job. Also, I built a covered bridge across a creek that ran behind our house. I did that so I could get my tractor over on the other side of the creek. It looks like an old covered bridge you might see in Maine. Oh, I also built a deck on the back of our house.

HK: What was the worst thing you’ve ever made?

DP: (Laughing) Well, I have a few of those. I’ve got a woodburning stove and those got used for heat!

Many of Perkins’ pieces are likely destined to become family herilooms.

HK: So, why do you make stuff? What motivates you?

DP: I like to give things to people. And I don’t think about other things when I’m working with wood. It’s relaxing. I used to sometimes work until the wee hours of the morning.

HK: It sounds like you really love making things for people.

DP: I do.

What about you? What do you like to make? We’d love to hear your story. If you’re interested in trying your hand at woodworking, here are a few books and a DVD from the Library to get you started. Click each image and go straight to the catalog.

Check these out!


Heather Kearns

I've been the Sabatini Gallery's associate curator since 2004 and social media coordinator since 2008. My passion is helping people “get“ art, and by that I mean creating an environment both in-house and online which fosters a greater understanding, confidence, and sense of enjoyment from the art experience. Art should be easy to access and available to everyone. I take helping people very seriously.

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