- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 20, 2018

GALVESTON, Ind. (AP) - Of all the tools in Toney Robertson’s workshop he uses to craft his furnishings, perhaps one of his most important is a simple bucket.

He sits on it while working out the design challenges that take his pieces from an idea in his mind to something that adorns a room.

“I feel like I’m pretty good at figuring things out if I take some time and just sit and think,” Robertson said. “But that’s really what I enjoy - that challenge. And the most rewarding thing I think about what I do is being able to take what I see in my head and bring it into the real world and see it sitting there after I just thought about it.”

For Robertson, woodworking is a lifelong calling that a childhood accident couldn’t prevent him from pursuing. He’s returning to a state artisan show in April. The biggest accolade he said he can receive for his work is knowing it will be admired for years to come.

Robertson said he’s been working with wood just about all his life. His late father was a carpenter and built the workshop he continues to use today.

That workshop on Feb. 13 was filled with the smell of freshly cut timber and housed a large lathe, bandsaw and table saw while clamps, gouges and other tools lined its walls.

He credits his parents with setting him out on the path he continues down. Robertson said he suffered an accident when he was too young to remember and no one saw happen, but resulted in both of his hands falling straight into the still hot coals of a carpentry scrap pile that had earlier been burned. It required him to get skin grafts, he said, adding he had to undergo at least one surgery a year until he was a sophomore in college.

Robertson said his mother and father never told him he couldn’t do something because of the injuries to his hands.

“I’ve never really thought about it that much because they never allowed it to really be an issue,” he said.

One of the design challenges he conquered in his workshop was a chest of drawers whose oak drawer faces he curved to match the spalted maple top’s natural edge. It won best in show one year in Fine Furnishing Shows in Providence, Rhode Island.

Then there was the cabinet he made for a friend using siding from their ancestor’s old barn and another cabinet he created for his girlfriend based off a sketch.

“I spend some time on the bucket scratching my head - how do I do this?” Robertson said. “And so I figure that out.”

Robertson’s work will be featured once again in the 10th annual Indiana Artisan Marketplace at Expo Hall at the Indiana State Fairgrounds April 7 through 8. More than 100 artisans from Indiana and Kentucky showcase original art and food in the juried show. Robertson said he’s participated in the show every year except last year.

He hopes appreciation for his work will outlive the original buyers, he said, going on to recall a customer he sold a desk to in Wisconsin.

“It would really make me happy if your grandchildren are fighting over who gets the desk,” Robertson remembered telling the customer. “That’s what I want, I want these pieces to pass down through the generations.”

The cabinet he recently made for his girlfriend has a laser-engraved plaque indicating what year it was made, where the wood came from, who it was made for and Robertson’s signature.

“I’m hoping 300 years from now somebody sees this cabinet and they look at that and they go, ‘Wow, he made this 300 years ago and the wood was from here,’” he said. “That’s what I’m hoping for.”

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Source: (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune

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Information from: Pharos-Tribune, http://www.pharostribune.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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