Apparently I missed the memo about the new members posting in this section first...so here I go.
My name is Bradley Matthews and I am from San Angelo, Texas. I have been a Handyman Club member for about two and a half years. I am a rookie firefighter/paramedic (myself and my seven other rookie brothers are about 3 weeks out from finishing our paramedic class) for the City of San Angelo.
I got my start in handy-work, construction, woodworking, etc. when I was about 10 years old. My family and I built our own house from the ground up, and did all the work ourselves except to pour the slab and lay the bricks. That's when the working with my hands "bug" first bit me. I continued to piddle around with building/deconstructing things throughout grade school and junior high. My first real "hands-on" big project was repairing/refurbishing a utility trailer my grandfather had salvaged from our local landfill (he was foreman in charge of all vehicle maintenance at the time), after I had learned to weld in my high school ag/shop class. I finished out high school just doing a few minor projects for some close friends and family, and taking a few drafting classes to help making project planning easier. After high school I went off to college with a plan to major in architecture (as you can see from my first paragraph, that didn't work out as planned
) that's when I finally figured out how much affect the design aspect can have on the simplicity/feasibility of a project. First year architecture students at Texas Tech are required to take a 3D-Design class and learn three different programs: Google SketchUp, Form-Z, and, of course, AutoCad. I still use Google SketchUp to this day, it is probably the most user-friendly design program I have found; plus, you can't beat the price (the non-pro version is FREE
I have recently just gotten into pen-turning and do all of my work on a Shopsmith Mark V that was my grandfather's. The Shopsmith was given to me by my grandmother after my grandfather passed away four years ago. He was a Life-Member of the Handyman Club and always enjoyed helping people through various types of missionary works. I have been involved in the World Changers program twice (you can read more about them here: http://www.worldchangers.org), and have really enjoyed the experience. If you are a church-going person, or even if you're not, I would highly encourage you to check into this program, I promise you will meet some amazing people and those kids will change your life.
Well, that's me in a nutshell - firefighter/paramedic, Texan, woodworker, welder, Jack-of-all-trades (Master-of-none). Take care all. I hope to be more involved in these forums once I finish up school and begin my shift work.