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A little about me

A photo of me, with the just-finished 12-string guitar 

Building things became my career, but really it's just fooling around that got out of hand. When I was young I lacked the discipline to buckle down and work, instead I just did what was fun, which was building things. Later, when I looked for my first jobs, I naturally looked for what was enjoyable, and for which of my skills people would pay the most. Now I consider myself very lucky that I got to do what I love, and be paid for it.

If I had to point to one book that influenced my life and career more than any other, it would be this. I received this book as a gift when I was 14 or 15. I already had a strong penchant for tools and building things, but these people made what they needed from practically nothing - dirt, plants, rocks, trees, animal parts, and whatever else was available. I could suddenly see that anything was possible. Colonial Craftsmen book cover

It started when I was a toddler with scraps of lumber in the basement, grew with tree houses, prospered in junior high school shop classes, and flourished throughout my working life. I dropped out of art school to work at construction jobs renovating warehouses into lofts and restoring old Victorians. There have been houses, sailing yachts, satellites, wood carvings, furniture, scientific instruments, inventions, and more.

I started out just building things. Eventually I grew into design and engineering, which expanded what I could build. But in the end, I realized that I love working with my hands, and to be able to do both puts balance in life.

Some things I've built for my employers and their customers, some things I've built for my own customers as part of my present business, some things I've built for myself, and some things I've done just because I wanted to.

Somewhere along the line, I realized this isn't just a convenient job, or a way to make a living, it's who I am.

I've only recently started this site, but ever since I was in art school, putting together a portfolio has been something I've wanted to do. In part, it's my resume, but it's also like studying history: by seeing where I've been, I get a better idea of where I want to go. Other artists have one of those 30x40 folders to carry their artwork around in, but that never worked out for me. I tried ring binders full of photos, but those have limits too. So this is it.   Sadly, much of my work has gone unrecorded, but amazingly, many photos do still exist, as well as some drawings. There’s a ton more material I need to up-load. Keep an eye on the “What’s New” page.

After dropping out of California College of the Arts, Stone Boat Yard became my undergraduate education, my alma mater. W. F Stone & Sons had built wooden ships and boats there on San Francisco bay continuously since 1853, until the yard finally closed in 2004. Sometime after I left, they became an accredited institution as part of the state college system, for students in the naval architecture program. What I got out of that experience is best described on the Stone Boat Yard Page.

I enjoy having some of the things I've built or designed or created, but ultimately the greatest pleasure I draw from each project is the experience. It's the process, more than the result, that I work for.

Starting in 2003, and full time in 2004, I became self employed s a one-stop-shop design and build business, primarily for scientists and technology developers. I’d become an accomplished machinist before I turned to design and engineering, but had been away from the actual building for a number of years when I realized how much I missed the hands-on part. I acquired a complete prototyping machine shop in 2003, which launched Burrowes Instruments. For a dozen years I spent about half my time doing the mechanical design work on complex optical systems, and the rest of it building what I design.

In 2015 I accepted a complete buyout offer from Nutronics, Inc., my largest and most favorite customer, selling them my machine shop, and taking a full time position as Staff Engineer. I did mainly mechanical design, while younger engineers descended on my shop equipment with relish. I retired from professional employment in October 2017, and now spend my time building things in my woodwork shop. I still have the name Burrowes Instruments, but I changed the logo to reflect building musical instruments, rather than scientific instruments.

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