Michael Belle Isle
I came to Whidbey Island with my wife on orders back in 1998 and came for the fishing but stayed for the weather. I have been working in wood for close to 45 years and learned the love of wood working from Bernie Mathers.
I spent summers with my Aunt Sandi in San Francisco, CA. Her full time job was a book keeper for an electrical parts company but she always wanted to be in real-estate. Well she met her life partner, Bernie Mathers, who was in the business of home renovation. So Sandi quit as a book keeper and took up real-estate looking for deals to make a living at. She and Bernie would buy up homes renovate them (flipping now days) and put them back on the market.
Bernie was quite the all around carpenter and she was my mentor. I have done every job there is to do in the renovation of a home from basement to roof and from front to back doors (save electrical).
I have always enjoyed working in wood and the smell of fresh cut wood just puts a smile on my face. Even during my years in the Navy I would seek out the on base wood shop in my off time to do wood working.
Now that I am retired I have built myself a modest wood shop and have collected numerous wood working tools. I do specialty items for people and friends. And can build most anything in wood and I’m very capable of interrupting a person’s idea and putting it into wood.
I have worked in several cabinet production shops building kitchen and work shop cabinets, but found it rather boring, as one can only build the same cabinet so many times.
I have been on many home builds as a Trim Carpenter. In 2000-2004 I worked as the Shop Manager of the Wood Shop on NASWI and taught the craft of wood working to the sailors.
After the base closed the Wood Shop I went to work for Nordic Tugs in Burlington building 37’, 42’ and 52’ boats. Let me say this about building a cabinet for a boat. A kitchen cabinet is a six a sided box but building cabinet for a boat salon is quite the challenge. You might have four sides but more of than not you only have three sides in which a cabinet must fit within the small confines of the hull. And not always did you have two right angled sides. I loved that job such a challenge.
These days I find myself learning new facets of wood working such as I have learned the art of pen turning from just a block of wood. A wood worker friend of mine has shown me the art of the scroll sawing and I believe I’m getting pretty good at it.
I make jewelry boxes, pens, and shadow boxes, clocks you name it. I’ve either successfully made it or at least tried to make it. I have several books of information and ideas in my wood working library and almost every day I learn a something new in the way of making a cut or idea to build something.