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Productive labor has long been my excuse for avoiding gym membership. I like the way it's possible to be engaged completely on the physical side while still allowing ideas to roil around and ripen in the background.

I was in the third month of waiting on a big project when Paul DiPasquale called me to talk about his Neptune sculpture. He was putting together a welding crew, and I signed up for the summer. Strike while the iron's hot, I thought, and tried to mind-meld that idea on over to my skittish client.

Two things you might not know about the finished sculpture on the Virginia Beach boardwalk: (a) it wasn't supposed to be so big, which was a major issue with shipping and assembly, and (b) to address concerns about his backside sex appeal, we raised the dolphins.

Also, when the thermometer reads 100 degrees it's really much hotter if you're wearing a lot of gear, standing inside a metal sculpture, and waving a welding torch back and forth. We could have made some extra money endorsing Gatorade.

Years of house construction and renovation experience brought my carpentry skills to a fairly consistent 1/8 inch accuracy. I credit Wobanc Danforth for bringing me up to 1/32 inch. After a rogue wave broke Wobanc's neck at the beach, we worked out a plan where his brain guided my hands to finish up some projects. It was so much fun we worked together part-time for another two years.

The Plantation Wardrobe shown is salvaged "heart pine" (longleaf pine, now largely extinct) finished with a variety of paints and shellac. The Graham Desk is white ash finished with tung oil, varnish, and very hard wax. Both designs are by Wobanc.