Author Spotlight: Ken Russell



Featured Author: Ken Russell

Drumroll please! It’s time to announce the 2014 Rookie of the Year Award; and this ukulele makin’ man has victoriously earned this title. First Time Author Challenge Winner, Ken Russell, has both the creativity and the wit to inspire lurkers, newcomers, and wallflowers to share their projects on Instructables!

Q: What was the best part about posting your first Instructable?

My favorite part of posting for the first time was learning about the “Be Nice” comment policy. In an internet full of flamers and trolls, this site is a welcome and unfamiliar shower of support and compliments. It’s like I came to an addiction support group and found that I’m actually addicted to positive feedback.

Q: Before heading to Tahiti for your honeymoon and learning how to build a ukulele, have you done many woodworking projects before?

I’ve done many projects since then, but that was my first musical instrument and my first time using power carving tools. I had built some basic furniture, but nothing as ambitious as the Tahitian Uke.

Q: What inspires you to build?

There is tremendous satisfaction in actually bringing something new into the world. I watched my wife do it twice (we have two daughters now). I love the idea that things I’ve made from hardwood may be around for 100 years. My daughter’s daughters may put my work in a garage sale some day.

Q: Have you replicated any Instructables already on the site?

Last week, I replicated the Carpenter’s Pencil by [author] deweymakes. It was my brother’s birthday, so like any good cheapskate; I went looking for an Instructable to replicate. I really enjoyed following the instructions and putting my own twist on the end result. However, cheap karma came back to bite me. Let’s just say that pencil graphite meeting Sawstop Table Saw makes for an actually very expensive gift if you know what I mean…. I’m guessing you don’t.

Q: Are you a stand up comedian? The titles of each of your steps had me chuckling (i.e. Step 2: Wake the neighbors). Did that actually happen?

That chainsaw is so comically big and loud, it could probably wake the neighbors and wake the dead. It has a 220cc motor, which is pretty much like holding a motocross engine with giant steel teeth.

Q: Do you have any interest in learning the ukulele now that you’ve made one?

Sadly for my wife (or fortunately, depending on your POV) I spent every day of our honeymoon with Andre’, the little kid who had the original Tahitian Ukulele. Despite our language barrier, he taught me several songs on the Ukulele. I’ve since expanded my repertoire, serenade my daughters regularly, and actually had my first public performance at the open mic night of Fox’s Lounge in South Miami. I was very nervous, but luckily had the 2am crowd join me in a drunken chorus of “You are my Sunshine.”

Q: What other DIY projects are on the horizon? And when can we expect your next published Instructable?

Now that I know that there’s an audience for my gibberish, there’s no stopping me. I’ll keep the camera handy whenever I’m working on something interesting and post as often as possible.

Q: Do you have any words of wisdom for the Instructable members out there?

You should strive to emulate Imperial Philosopher D. Vader who said, “The Circle is now complete…I was but the learner. Now I am the Master.” Of course, he said that right before killing Obi Wan Kenobi, but forget about that part. The point is that it’s time for you to teach us something. As you can see with me, you don’t really have to know what you’re talking about.

Q: Is there anyone who is especially influential on the things you make?

My chiropractor Mark Baum, in addition to straightening me out, was my first woodworking mentor. His office is full of the sculpture and furniture that he makes in his free time. I asked him if he would teach me and he did. It’s become something that I really enjoy and I owe much appreciation to Mark.

Q: Any last things you’d like to share with the Instructables community?

Thanks for being a great place for people to learn and teach. I’m glad I found you and that you found me. Let’s make some stuff together!!