Mike Walsh next to chair he fixed

Mike Walsh

Volunteer and Instructor

Woodshop Circle and Shop Leader Circle

Mike Walsh is an active woodworking member of Makers Mill who moved to Wolfeboro in September of 2022.  He and his wife, Kathleen, were house hunting and passed the Mill on their drive up the road to check out another possible piece of real estate.  The Mill was not yet open, but Mike immediately recognized it as a “makers space.” It was a “driveby” that convinced the Walshes to buy the house they now occupy just up the road from the Mill.

After settling into their new home, Mike responded to the “call” of this “makers space” they had identified as soon as it opened.  He affirms that he is now down at the Mill almost every day working in the woodworking shop.

In Mike’s professional life, he served as a fireman in Londonderry and ultimately became a paramedic.  It was the fire department that sent him to paramedic school.  Ultimately, he served the department for twenty-two years.  Now in retirement, Mike feels he can focus his attention on his love for woodworking.  It has always been an area of inspiration for him.  His focus is fixed on learning more about woodworking and also on “relearning what I had learned early on.”

“As a child, I loved making things out of wood.  I learned that from my father as I was growing up in Wakefield, Mass.  He was my inspiration.  Sadly, both of my parents died within a short time span during my secondary school days.  Fortunately, I was able to connect with a mentor at my secondary school, the shop teacher, Mr. Jones, who became my guide and inspiration.  He directed me towards Wentworth Institute to study architecture and building construction.”

Initially, for the first two years of his professional life, Mike worked as a foundation worker, framer, and roofer.  After that experience, he served as a draftsman, an estimator, and a project manager for a few firms in the Metro Boston area.

“The love of woodworking during those times was put aside, but I knew I had to return to it and master it some day.”

Mike is deeply dedicated to sharing his passion and his craft with others. The Mill offers him this opportunity. Josh Arnold has asked him to serve as a Circle member.  Mike responds with enthusiasm to this new opportunity.  “At the Mill there are five leaders in each craft.  I am in woodworking.  I am a leader in the woodworking shop helping whoever needs help.  I have begun teaching classes at the Mill and also will continue to help people from the community who come in seeking assistance.  Recently there was an artist who needed a few custom frames wanting to make frames for a NY exhibit.  Another participant wants to begin beekeeping, so I will soon be building beehives.”

For Mike, the Mill offers an environment in which “we are all the same, but do different things.  We are resources for one another.  For example, a local tourism venue has found me through another member of the jewelry shop who will be introducing a craftsman period workshop at their location at the other end of the lake this fall.”

Mike sees Makers Mill as an invaluable resource offering him the opportunity to fulfill his need to help, support, and share his craft with others.  He affirms, “I don’t say no.  If I can do it, I say sure!

Other interesting facts about Mike Walsh?  As a native of New England, Mike finds all seasons to be “great seasons.”  He does, however, choose winter as his favorite.  “I used to make an ice rink in the winter.   Also I love shoveling snow, and, although I don’t ski often, I do like to snowshoe.”

In summer, Mike loves to boat.  In fall, he likes to hike.  In spring, he goes fishing.

When asked about his hobbies, Mike affirms that woodworking is “living the dream.”  However, he is also beginning to develop a new hobby, i.e. boating, and has just recently acquired his boater certificate.

Presently, Mike has a cat, Diego.  Sadly, he recently had to put his pet dog, a beagle named Shadow, down.  He remembers with love and gratitude that he was able to take Shadow on a final boating trip to Maine.

A fun fact about Mike is his love of libraries.  He remembers back to his school days when, on occasion, he would be going to school and would end up instead at the Wakefield Public Library.  There he especially loved to peruse books on woodworking history and industrial science.

One of Mike’s special dedications is keeping a clean organized workshop.  At a shared workplace, Mike feels that one needs to be aware that the next person to work there will be expecting a station that is ready for their work.  “Golf is all about etiquette, and golfers take pride in that.  Woodworking in a shared space needs that same level of diligence. It is about putting things back in place, and I am a stickler for this ‘etiquette.’”

Mike does bring that same sense of etiquette and dedication to Makers Mill.  “I have always understood the need for a ‘makers space’ for people.  I like giving people who don’t have the appropriate space tools, training, and the opportunity to make something.

It seems that everyone who engages in this creative work speaks highly of their “maker space.”

Makers Mill is now going through the growing pains of securing this space for their participants.  Mike appreciates that the Makers Mill staff remains so deeply dedicated to getting the Mill going by acquiring more tools and doing more growth promoting activities.  “Josh Arnold provides the framework to make it happen.”

Mike himself also has a specific dedication.  His personal project now is building a 19th century traditional steamer trunk.  It will await the return of his son Michael from his service in USMC.

In essence, Mike Walsh feels that Makers Mill is “doing everything right” in terms of program development and making tools and equipment available to all who wish to participate in “making.”  Mike believes this dedication is having a very positive impact.  “For one thing, I am seeing a trend that is bringing adults and young people into crafting things as a means of self-support.  I did not receive any such training in a secondary education setting as it began to disappear decades ago.”  For Mike, this crafting approach is the authentic “American approach.”  He loves doing this work with hand tools preferring them to power tools in many ways.  In essence, Mike believes that one of America’s greatest traditions is the tradition of self-dependence, a tradition that should be nurtured by making things rather than spending resources abroad to have things made.  Makers Mil will be a place for many to begin following a work path that they can rely on to provide a living.

Mike Walsh is deeply appreciative of his new living situation.  “Wolfeboro is so welcoming.  I have never felt so welcome before.  And here at Makers Mill, there is such a high level of craftsmanship that every participant experiences a shared sense of pride.”

In essence, Mike Walsh is experiencing a sense of renewal.  “Wolfeboro and Makers Mill have given me a fresh outlook on how to live out retirement.  My dream is to make a museum level piece before I die.  In the meantime, I can’t wait for the next project.  It is knocking at my door.”

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