August 2022 – Wally Carpenter is a retired IBM semiconductor engineering manager, Northeastern Woodworker’s Association (NWA) past president and the current chair for NWA’s annual Fine Woodworking Showcase event in Saratoga Springs, NY. In his current role, he has the privilege of interacting with many legendary woodworkers in the business.
Wanting to learn more about the design aspects of furniture making, Wally signed up for a 2-week course called Design & Craftsmanship at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in 2006. He found the course “transformative and mind altering to his understanding of woodworking.” Originally a hobbyist who began developing his skillset by watching woodworking episodes of Norm Abram and David Marks, he started with simple wood items and eventually progressed to Maloof-inspired rockers and even violins.
When Wally was 61, having been employed as an engineer for nearly 34 years, he had a woodworking epiphany. He realized that if he were to make all of the pieces he had designed in his notebook, he’d better get a move on in order to make a dent in his passion. Spurred by the motto,”You can always make more money, but you cannot make more time,” Wally retired within the year to focus on his woodworking.
By blending his engineering skills with his love of design in woodworking, Wally has sought to teach many other woodworkers what he learned from his NWA and CFC experiences. He says, “I wish CFC many future decades of successful woodworking instruction and in their continued ability to transform woodworkers’ minds as they did for me.”