Michael Alm is a Seattle based artist and woodworker.
Always an artist (Michael began showing his work in art galleries in 2006), in 2014 he took the skills that he adopted from an early age and started Alm Fab, a design and fabrication company that specialises in custom furniture and unique creative design solutions.
In 2017 Michael took the Alm Fab brand to the next level with the launch of his YouTube channel. Passionate about sharing the skills and techniques that he has acquired in his experience, the channel focuses not only on documenting his projects but also on educating other makers.
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How did you get into woodworking?
I started woodworking pretty early on. My dad had a basement shop where he built model ships, and I loved hanging out there. The endless possibilities that shop allowed me was really powerful. I remember when my dad let me use the bandsaw for the first time. I couldn’t stop thinking about how cool it was. To this day that’s my favourite tool.
What inspires your creations?
I would say that my sculptures are inspired by nature and natural history, while my furniture is inspired by mid-century and industrial design. The melting table is the first piece I’ve made that has married those two sides.
What made you decide to add power carving to your repertoire?
I’ve always enjoyed carving. I studied sculpture in college, and used to carve entirely with hand tools. I stumbled onto power carving as a way to speed up my process. I popped a sanding disk on my angle grinder, and that helped me clear out material. Then I saw Jimmy Diresta use a TURBOPlane in a video, and decided I needed to get my hands on one. The thing that surprised me about the switch to power carving is how much fun it is! I thought I’d power carve for the function of it, but now I power carve because I enjoy it just as much as the chisel and gouge work.
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What is your favourite power carving tool and why?
I LOVE the TURBOPlane. Like I said, I started with a sanding disk on an angle grinder, and the TURBOPlane is so much faster, easier to control, and the finish it leaves behind is a thousand times better. There are very few carving projects I don’t use the TURBOPlane on, and It’s certainly the most universal carving tool in my quiver.
What impact has power carving had on your art/passion/livelihood?
The more pieces you make the more you learn! Power carving has allowed me to make my work faster, and as a result I’ve become a better sculptor.
What advice would you give to people who are thinking of getting into power carving?
I think initially most people are worried they are going to ruin a piece by carving away too much material. In my experience it’s the other way around. A lot of beginners leave too much material on and it results in chunky/blocky carvings. Push the carving a little beyond your comfort zone and you’ll find better lines and a much more fluid form.
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