Junior Explores His Passion for Woodworking

Carving a Path to Creativity

Photo Courtesy of Ali Ghafuri
Ghafuri carves a bowl from a wooden block using a gauge, a tool used to make precise marks in wood. While he enjoys making bowls the most, he has also created letter openers and containers.

Jordan Lee and Tiffany Wu

On sunny afternoons, junior Ali Ghafuri can be found in his garage with goggles on, hardware tools lined neatly on a handmade wooden workbench by his side and a smattering of wood dust covering his gloves and apron. Ghafuri began woodworking in the sixth grade; as the only member of his family who expressed interest in woodworking, he taught himself through YouTube videos and other tutorials online. 

“Of all the other hobbies I do, woodworking is the thing I do whenever I have free time. I used to play video games, but now I never do,” Ghafuri said. “Whenever I have free time, I’m out in the garage, getting work done.”

Instead of going out and buying a workbench, I actually built my own, and I use it. So every time I sit down and start working, I remember having to make it and all the planning and time that went into it, and I just feel proud of myself.”

— Ali Ghafuri

Currently, Ghafuri is focusing on projects using a lathe, which is a machine that shapes wood by rotating an object about its axis of symmetry. In particular, Ghafuri said he enjoys turning bowls, which can be shaped easily and are products he can be easily proud of.

“The nicest thing about woodworking is being able to make things: specifically, that feeling of having a finished product and turning it from just a block of wood to something you can use,” Ghafuri said. “And that’s a big thing being able to use it, too. Instead of going out and buying a workbench, I actually built my own, and I use it. So every time I sit down and start working, I remember having to make it and all the planning and time that went into it, and I just feel proud of myself.” 

For the future, Ghafuri said he hopes to create an instrument, as inspired by the wooden ukulele physics teacher John Olivares built. 

“I’m thinking of creating a lute because they seem to be really fascinating, and there’s a lot of new concepts of woodworking to explore while I’d create that,” Ghafuri said. “For example, the body of the lute is curved, and I’ve never done curving wood. You have to get a hot pipe; there’s a whole process that I’ve never explored before that I would like to try out.” 

A builder at heart, Ghafuri said he finds woodworking fulfilling due to the wide variety in products he can create; to him, the garage is a wondrous wooden playground. To learn about Ghafuri’s latest woodworking projects, visit his Instagram @alis.wooden.blocks.