One Woodworker Shares His Passion

We believe there is truly something magical about working with our hands. Creating brings us into a world of honesty and humility, pride and passion. It evokes an undeniable reality that demands individual attention and creativity. Using our hands to create something — anything — instills a sense of self, giving us a realization of what can and cannot be controlled. It is incredibly inspiring and empowering.

Sharing handmade creations is one of the most thoughtful gifts one can give. If you’ve ever received something that someone took the time to craft with their hands, you understand.

We had the privilege of talking to a craftsman who is using his hands to create something beautiful for the purpose of gifting. Pete Jorgensen, a retired paramedic, builder and woodworker from Tucson, AZ is the father of Brett Jorgensen, one of Bulldog Drummond’s lead designers. Pete has been working with wood since he was a young lad in his father’s custom cabinet shop. James Jorgensen was a perfectionist and a kind, patient teacher who led by example and taught his children to appreciate the craft of woodworking.

“Looking back, I bet he had to correct things later that we did while ‘helping him’ on his wood working projects.” said Pete. He recalls his dad loving the creative process of exploring a customer’s idea and the challenge of bringing their vision to life. His goal was simple, to make quality cabinets that pleased his clients. Today, Pete has adopted this simple but important philosophy in his own work.

It was more than cabinets. Cabinets paid the bills but Pete’s father’s passion was in the creative process. Pete watched his father enjoy the challenge of working with wood, exploring his creativity and making things that made people happy. When Brett was born, Grandpa Jim made him a small rocking chair that has been passed down through the family. Pete recalls his father turning Christmas ornaments on the lathe along with elaborate sewing cabinets and beautifully turned bowls for family gifts. The passion was clearly in the making and giving.

Passion runs in the family

Pete retired ten years ago, but he hasn’t slowed down. Aside from large jobs like remodels, cabinets and furniture-making, he enjoys experimenting with small wood projects — one of those projects being baby rattles.

He started making baby rattles on his lathe when a few friends announced they were having grandchildren. Carrying on his father’s tradition of making handmade gifts, Pete’s goal is to make something that will not only be useful to a baby but can be passed down as a family treasure. As he so aptly says, “I think I will always have the need to create with my hands.”

It’s all about the process

Pete keeps the process simple. He repurposes almost all of the wood he uses to make the rattles. He uses a small, traditional lathe and allows each rattle to evolve naturally depending on the personality of the wood, each taking about 30 minutes to an hour to turn and resulting in a different shape and color. They occasionally break but Pete says the trick is to carve out the rings on the rattle carefully before cutting them away from the base. After the rattle is turned, it’s sanded and then finished with vegetable oil so it’s safe for babies to play with and chew. The oiling process also brings out the colors in the wood adding to each rattles uniqueness. As the final step, Pete tests each rattle to ensure a good sound and checks for soft edges for baby’s little hands.

Keeping the passion alive

When James wasn’t healthy enough to go to his cabinet shop anymore, he set up a table in his living room and began building small balsa wood airplanes, boats and cars. Grandma Lou wasn’t happy about the wood shavings all over the floor, so when she kicked him out of the living room, Pete and his brothers built a small workshop in his backyard where he moved his projects.

Pete dreams of the same scenario — growing old in a small workshop while creating and pursuing his passion projects. He says,

“I think I will be like my dad, trying to find ways to continue to design and create as long as my hands work! It brings me such satisfaction to do the work and to make others happy.”

Clearly the passion to create runs in the Jorgensen family. Stories like Pete’s serve as a reminder to explore simple passions and enjoy the process along the way. We encourage you to explore that hobby you used to love as a child or learn a new skill, maybe even a woodworking project. Build a model plane like James or learn to build a robot. Take on that passion project you’ve been putting off — and tell us about it.

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