Fred Asplen uses hand tools to make furniture the old-fashioned way. It’s not that he’s never used a power drill, a table saw, or an electric router. He just prefers not to.
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“By using the hand tools, you just get to know the wood better, every knot,” he said. “Some woods just act totally different.”
His tables, benches, and stools are works of art, heavy and built to last.
Fred got his interest in woodworking 50 years when he worked for a boat builder in Maryland.
“And then I was sort of hooked,” he said.
He’s also worked on several historic properties, including a restored 16-sided barn on George Washington’s farm at Mt. Vernon, Virginia. He’s currently refurbishing wooden shutters for a historic estate in southern Maryland.
When Fred is working, he says he sometimes likes to think about the very first people who came to Kentucky. Maybe all they had in their possession was one ax, and they had to use it to make their homes and furniture.”
That’s why he often demonstrates how to turn a round tree into a square log, hoping others will realize how tools reveal talents.
For Fred, this primitive pastime is more about passion than profit. His furniture pieces are stacked in his wood shop rather than in shops and galleries.
“I mean, they’re all for sale for sure, but I’m not making any effort and really don’t know how to market them anyway,” he said.
But anyone who gets one of his creations will know it was made to last by someone who purposely did it the hardest way possible,
“Every minute of every phase of this was satisfying,” he said.
You can follow him and see more of his work on Instagram Againstthegrain_woodworker