Wednesday, June 20, 2018
News Roundup

San Antonio woodworker crafts musical instruments, including ukuleles

SAN ANTONIO

Andrew Gibson was 13 when his grandpa determined an old upright piano was shot and needed to be trashed.

Gibson, who had been hammering nails in his grandpa's shadow since he was a toddler, started salvaging parts. A flat piece would work for a table top. Legs came from a builder's supply. Before long, the piano pieces formed a small table that Gibson's grandpa still keeps in his New Port Richey home.

Gibson has been fashioning lumber and leftovers into furniture and musical instruments ever since. When the job market soured in 2008, just as Gibson was graduating from college, he turned to his woodworking skills and found a way to earn an income.

"I wouldn't say I have people banging the door down, but I'm on the edge of things becoming very productive," said Gibson, 27, in his San Antonio workshop, carefully stacking pieces of red eucalyptus cut into shapes for small tables.

Gibson grew up in St. Peters, Mo. He was 2 when his grandpa, Charles Harris, handed him his first chunk of wood, a hammer and some nails. He was 9 when someone gave him his first toolbox for Christmas.

He eagerly opened the empty box, then asked, "But, where are the tools?!"

From then on, someone was sure to give him a tool for Christmas or his birthday to keep his woodworking interest growing. While other kids his age enjoyed baseball, Gibson slipped inside to watch This Old House.

Then his grandparents moved to Florida, and Gibson's family followed. He was homeschooled, then attended Saint Leo University, where he studied history and fell in love with a biology major named Nicole Williams. They married in May.

She encouraged Gibson to hone his woodworking skills into a career. While she works as a manager at PetSmart, he's busy with planes, chisels and hand saws. He prefers hand tools — it may take longer to build pieces that way, but he believes it gives them a unique look and feel. And, he said, it's quieter.

His woodcrafting ribbons hang in his workshop above a large, handsome tool chest that he crafted. It's filled with saws, hand planers and other tools that help shape wood into something useful and beautiful, the creative designs — leaning toward 1800s early American — created by Gibson.

He joined up with Tampa Woodcrafters who saw his talent, encouraging him to exhibit work in the 2011 Florida State Fair. Gibson entered three pieces and came away with prizes for each, including Best of Show for a Shaker five-drawer table. A gun cabinet took another first prize, and a side table nailed down a second prize.

Both tables sold during the fair. Gibson's confidence was boosted, the experience proving his wood craftsmanship was respected.

A few months later, his woodworking took a new turn when he met a group of Dade City ukulele players. Gibson figured a good way to learn to play one was to build his own. That led to ukulele orders from others, expanding his woodworking skills into a promising new area.

At his workshop bench on a recent morning, Gibson ran his hands over a partially complete ukulele, the top a silky piece of sycamore, surrounded with rich cherry sides.

Inside on the hearth sat four more ukuleles made from camphor, guanacaste, eucalyptus and mahogany. Gibson makes them in different sizes (for sound) and different woods (for aesthetics).

An ash rocker, which Gibson designed and made, sat nearby. Two delicately handmade boxes rested in the entryway, and the award-winning gun cabinet stood tall and regal.

Gibson prefers using woods native to Florida, and his go-to place is Viable Lumber, a group that started as a co-op, salvaging trees that would otherwise be burned or mulched. Gibson contracts with them and has a variety of native Florida woods that, at first glance, appear exotic. He understands the grain and look of the wood, the care it needs before it becomes a functional item and he especially appreciates giving the wood a new purpose.

Of course this line of work has its hazards. Recently Gibson caught his finger in the joiner, resulting in a nasty cut. Then there was the stack of lacewood he brought in to build new bedroom furniture for his bride. Many times he stepped back and forth over it, his legs brushing the wood. An irritating rash occurred, much like that from poison ivy. Gibson discovered he's allergic to that particular kind of wood.

So the bedroom set is on hold. But Gibson's woodworking career is not. He's busily working on other creations, including a whole line of ukuleles.

He said he's getting better with each one.

   
Comments
Clearwater wants $40 million from the county for a stadium. But there’s not $40 million to give.

Clearwater wants $40 million from the county for a stadium. But there’s not $40 million to give.

CLEARWATER —The city’s proposed $79.7 million overhaul of the Philadelphia Phillies’ spring training facilities depends on getting $40 million in bed taxes from Pinellas County.But records show even if county officials wanted to bankroll the Phillies...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Victor Hedman, a relentless part of the Lightning's push to the Eastern Conference final, was honored Wednesday night with the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman."To the Lightning organization, Mr. Jeff Vinik, Steve Yzerman and the coac...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Police: Couple leased someone else’s home to 15 families at same time

Police: Couple leased someone else’s home to 15 families at same time

LARGO — Vanessa Rodriguez thought she found the right house for her three kids, in the right neighborhood, for the right rent. She signed the lease for April 30, sent a $2,300 money order and planned to move in June 1.Then the delays started. She sai...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hillsborough commissioners approve referendum on making county officers non-partisan

Hillsborough commissioners approve referendum on making county officers non-partisan

TAMPA — The debate over whether "Rep" or "Dem" should be on the ballot alongside the name of candidates for sheriff or property appraiser is now in the hands of Hillsborough County voters.Hillsborough County commissioners voted 5-2 Wednesday to hold ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

UPDATE, 6:43: Cash said the key to how the pieced the lineup together was the opportunity to give Cron (who is struggling) and Duffy (who is doing well) back to back days off. … Looking ahead to the weekend, the Rays will use RHP Ryne Stanek as...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Seminole Heights restaurant Mortar & Pestle files for bankruptcy reorganization

Seminole Heights restaurant Mortar & Pestle files for bankruptcy reorganization

TAMPA — Mortar & Pestle, a fledgling Seminole Heights eatery with a mom-and-pop pharmacy theme, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Seacoast Bank was listed as the creditor with the largest unsecured claim: $1.4 million.The restaurant...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Column: It’s time for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to process concealed weapons licenses

It is hard to believe that the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs didn’t discover for a year that an employee could not log into an account needed to see results of background checks that examined, among other things, whether applicants f...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Column: I survived a suicide attempt and here’s what you should know

Column: I survived a suicide attempt and here’s what you should know

Twenty-five years ago, I was a reporter at WTSP-TV, out in the field covering Tampa Bay’s Independence Day celebrations. I expected an easy assignment talking about families and fireworks. Then the newsroom called with an urgent message: I needed to ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
15 arrested in Hillsborough construction fraud sting, one for the eighth time

15 arrested in Hillsborough construction fraud sting, one for the eighth time

TAMPA — The contractors arriving at the Brandon home thought they were meeting with a potential customer. They were wrong.In fact, the would-be clients were undercover detectives and the contractors, lacking a license to ply their trade, left the hom...
Updated: 5 hours ago
As Border Patrol searches its buses, Greyhound is pulled into immigration uproar

As Border Patrol searches its buses, Greyhound is pulled into immigration uproar

He was a 12-year Miami resident originally from Trinidad, taken off a Greyhound bus in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, by U.S. Border Patrol agents in January.She was a 60-something Jamaican national who had just met her granddaughter for the first time, w...
Updated: 5 hours ago