Dave Hawksford, Master Turkey Call Maker
David Hawksford is a classically trained Artist
and registered Art Conservationist. His Talent is based on a strong foundation on detail and
craftsmanship. He learned the trade through his Grandfather. His Son Jarrod following right along in his footsteps, they share duties in the day to day operations at their studio. They both share the same enthusiasm when bring a lost and forgotten piece back to life the right way.
Dave's passion for turkey hunting has evolved
his restoration talent into making custom turkey calls. Pride and experience go into every piece.
We warmly invite you to read this interview
about Dave and find out a bit more about him.
Where did you grow up?
I'm what you call a River Rat. I started out in a small town called Cabin John, 4 miles outside of DC along the Potomac River. A very meager little town that has become a mix of 1-4 Mil$ homes settled in with the old small cracker box homes. Then my Mom and Dad moved to Rockville Md. 19 miles outside DC but still very much country mixed with the burbs.
And where do you live now?
I live about a mile from my parents in the same area of Rockville.
How would you describe yourself physically?
I still feel like I can scrap with the best of them, but with all the surgeries on my knees and shoulders 3 crushed lower back disc's and a number of broken bones time is catching up with me. It is a challenge for me to hit the tread mill and when I do it's a short time till I am back in shape and ready to run with the boys. I've always had one speed, be out front. I think having low blood pressure has something to do with it. I still am 115/70. I like to hear the nurse say : “you've got the heart of a 25 year old.” This picture was taken 3 weeks after I had my last knee surgery. So I can get around when I want too. LOL
I believe you are self-employed, what do you do to earn a living?
I'm a Restorer, Conservator and Preserver of many things; mostly antiques, wood furniture, old paintings, gilded objects, statues and artifacts.
How and when did you start woodworking?
I have never been a woodworker per se. I did take wood shop in high school one year and liked it very much. After that I never touched wood again till 2 months after I got married. My wife came home and said, "I am pregnant", and I came home and said, "I quit my job". She tells me, "...you always wanted to work for yourself and maybe this is the best time to start." I was an art major in college, painting and printmaking. I figured I knew how to use a paint brush so I started a painting company and from there went into faux painting and murals which lead me into painting furniture and then into refinishing furniture. I built a shop behind my home in '90 and worked out of there till '97. Then one day I walked outside and saw this cloud of lacquer moving through the neighborhood and figured I needed a big shop. That evening I had a contract on the shop
I am in today. I really do not claim to be a woodworker at all. I do what is necessary; I can carve anything that is needed or turn anything for a piece of furniture. I built a flint lock, not because I want to explore the financial aspect of gun building, but for a tool to hunt and target shoot. But to say I am a wood worker..., I'll leave that turn for you guys who make things.
Is there a woodworker [famous or not] who inspires you?
My Great Grandfather and my Grandfather both worked on the barges on the C&O canal and both were carpenters. My grandfather worked on many of the historical buildings in DC including the Capitol and White House. When he passed away, I remember saying "If I am half the man he was...... ", and I have been blessed with much more.
There is an old proverb that says; To whom much is given, much is required. I told God He could use me in any way he saw fit. I was in college at the time and from that point on I began developing my gifts. I could already draw, but I had no idea what was locked up inside of me. The Lord opened up many talents for me to explore and each one was something an average person would have taken a life to learn. I could look at any material, study it and with a little tinkering I could become a student of it with advanced skills. I used my talents to share my faith, in both my hobby which is my work and in hunting.
Quick story: My 1st visit down to Jacobs Military Academy in Va 2.5 hour drive. I was sitting waiting for the 1st soccer game to start. This man walked up to my van and said: we need to talk. I said ok, why? He said you do furniture and you hunt. The other team did not show up so we took the boys to the mess hall for dinner and Grovesnor asked me if I would like to come out to his farm. It was only 17 miles back up the road. It was 5:30PM and after looking over all his period furniture and seeing this 1784 home on 350 acres, we were standing on the back porch with a full moon looking out over the 40 acre pond. Grove said, "Well, looks like you have a home away from home for the next 4 years." I was shocked! I looked at Grov and said, "You are blessed." He got this queer look on his face and asked why. I told him I had 2 prayers about Jacob coming down here and you answered both on my 1st trip to visit. I told him the 1st prayer was I would have a peace about this decision about sending Jacob to school, which I got while we were sitting at the table during dinner. Then I told him the next one was the one that got me. I asked the Lord for a place to be able to take Jake hunting and fishing while he was here. Grove and I have become great friends and we do a little traveling together also. We went out to South Dakota to turkey hunt which was awesome.
What kind of woodworking do you do?
Does your professional work overlap with what you do for your own amusement?
My work is my hobby. I am not tied down to one talent and I enjoy the diversity. Last week I heard a commentator on the radio say that the way small companies will make it through the next few years is to be diverse. I started diversifying 29 years ago. Everything overlaps in my life. My friends, my hunting, and my work. One job will lead to a new talent which will lead to new customers to new friends. I have never taken a job that I did not know I could not do. I may have had to research it a bit before I did it. There is always a challenge around the next corner for me. I tell young guys to be open, never be afraid of doing something new. You may find some raw talent you will enjoy. Billy Graham once asked 70 senior citizens,
"What is the one thing you would do different if you could do it all over again?"
The # 1 answer was: Take more chances at something
new. I heard this back before I got married. I have had 3 mentors in my life, each one about 30-40 years my older than myself. I would soak up their wisdom and seek their knowledge. Each one made life an amusement which supported their work. I find I put my rest in my God and everything else will fall in place.
Do you have a favorite woodworking saying?
I never really relied on expressions or saying much. But I do like the saying. "You are only as good as the materials you use."
Which of your woodworking projects are you most proud of?
Man there are so many. Each time a customer comes in or we deliver a restored peace and I see that "Smile", I am at the top of the world. I do have some beautiful pieces that have WOW'ed me when they were finished. I look at them and say that was a job well done. There is a mirror frame which is my best work and there is a video on the web site of the work .
What is your favorite woodworking tool?
My Tormek. Without that my chisels would not be sharp.
Do you have a favorite woodworking vendor?
C&H Supplies. I have to drive 35 minutes to get there shop in the country but Teresa and her Dad are great people.
Do you have a favorite tool manufacturer?
Not really. Whoever makes the best tool that I need at the time.
Is there a particular style you like best?
No. Each style has its own characteristics, and for refinishing, I just need to pull out the best that is within.
Is there a particular species of wood you like working?
Probably cherry. I can do just about anything with cherry in terms of color. With the right cut, I can fool just about any eye.
What woodworking skill do you desire, but have not yet attained?
I really do not have any great desires, I remain open to learn as I go.
Is there a piece you dream of doing someday?
I do not think so. I turned down Marc Chagall to pull prints for him in England when I was in college. I decided not to join a conservator association which would have allowed me to work in the Capitol or the White House. I like to just settle into what my faith brings my way.
Any other words of wisdom for our members?
I like this saying: "Count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience." I cannot know joy with out the bad. Each temptation I go through I am straightened and receive wisdom from. I have devoted my life to my faith and each time I hit the skids and come out on the other side, I receive a little more reasonability and wisdom. And that Joy I receive from the lesson carries me through to the next and so life goes on