For the last 30 years or so, Darrell Ease has been working with wood. He sells some of his products at flea markets and craft fairs and says he spends close to 100 hours a week working on projects. Yet he insists it isn’t work — but it is more than a hobby.
“How many people use that as a hobby?” he asks pointing to a table saw.
His garage is filled with various types of wood from the common oak, maple and pine to the unusual, including exotic African woods such as bilinga and purpleheart.
“The purpleheart is about $2,000 for a 2 x 4,” he says, adding the only time he’s seen a company use it was for inlays on violins.
He doesn’t use the purpleheart for woodworking either, insisting that the wood is so hard it would ruin his blade before he got a quarter of an inch through. The sample in his garage came from his son, Craig, who was also very good at woodworking. Craig passed away about 10 years ago, but Ease still has many of his son’s pieces in the garage and throughout his home.
Besides the wood, Ease’s garage is filled with tools, cutting equipment and more samples than he can store. Some of the tools belonged to Ease’s father, and many are so old they no longer make parts to replace them.
Ease holds up a jigsaw and points to the blade.
“They don’t make these any more. If this breaks, I might as well throw the whole thing away even though it still works,” he says.
Ease can design and build just about anything with his assortment of tools. Some of his more prominent designs are doll pieces, including a cradle and high chair, designed from tiny furniture his sister received as a child more than 50 years ago. The original pieces, doll included, are still in his garage to inspire him and his craft.
There are also carved and painting snowmen, tulips and reindeer. He has stained shelves, cabinets and stools.
One thing many woodworkers have to show for their work is missing or damaged fingers. For Ease, his first accident was less than a month ago.
“I should have been using a pusher,” he explains as he holds up his thumb and shows the long slice down the middle. “I poured some peroxide on it, put on a Band-Aid and thumb guard and was back to work in about 20 minutes.”