My brother and me (I'm the younger one) destroying some walls and breathing in some stuff we probably shouldn't have been breathing in.
My brother and me (I'm the younger one) destroying some walls and breathing in some stuff we probably shouldn't have been breathing in.

I've been around construction and carpentry since as early as I can remember.  My father is exceptionally handy and singlehandedly remodeled our house when I was a kid.  The process lasted for about 15 years.  From the time I was a toddler up until I was in high school, at least one room in our house was in some stage of destruction or reconstruction.  I helped my father in countless projects; demolition, plumbing, wiring, carpentry, painting, etc.

 

Although I liked working with my hands, I decided to go to college for finance to pursue my interests in numbers and investing.  While most of my friends in college spent their free time partying, I scheduled my nights and weekends around watching New Yankee Workshop and Hometime on PBS.  Although I didn't actually do any woodworking while in college, I always had an itch to build something.

 

I graduated in 2000 and began working in the financial services industry.  About a year out of school, I moved in with my then girlfriend (now wife).  I asked for, and got, a drill and a jigsaw that Christmas.  Shortly after that, I used some scrap MDF to build a birdhouse.  I did so in the kitchen of the apartment we were renting.  It made a huge dusty mess throughout the apartment, and I quickly realized MDF is a horrible choice of material to try to screw together.  But after that one project, I was hooked and wanted to build more stuff.  I then bought some other basic hand tools and borrowed my father's miter saw and built a basic blanket chest.  Again, I used our kitchen as our workshop.  The mess was even bigger that time, but so was the feeling of pride and satisfaction for having built something larger, more complex and more functional.

Building a shed on HGTV's All American Handyman
Building a shed on HGTV's All American Handyman

Fast forward nearly 20 years, and it has been a non-stop journey of getting more tools, reading a lot of woodworking books, getting more tools, going to woodworking trade shows, getting more tools, etc.  All the while, I've challenged myself by taking on bigger and more complicated projects.  I've also learned and done some of the other trades, such as plumbing and electrical.   Though I'm not licensed in those, so I've only done work in my own house, having completely gutted remodeled a kitchen and three bathrooms.  I also was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to compete as a contestant on HGTV's second season of All American Handyman (aired Fall 2011).  I ended up 4th place out of 20 people.

 

I still continue to work in financial services, and my job and commute unfortunately don't leave me a lot of free time.  But I find any reason I can to build something whenever I get the chance.  To me, there aren't many things as fulfilling and satisfying as seeing a woodworking idea go from just a thought in my head to a finished project.

 

Aside from woodworking, I'm also passionate about personal finance and financial planning.  Additionally, I occasionally teach finance courses as an adjunct lecturer for the MBA program of Rutgers University.  I consider myself an avid runner and am also a proud "prop dad" for my two daughters' dance school, the Jill Justin Dance Alliance.