Hi, first post as a new member! Woot! I've been lurking for a while though. I became a convert to the cult of quality kitchen cutlery after my in-laws gave me a Shun classic santoku last Christmas. They had bartered it in exchange for a set of vintage stereo speakers, and since they had no use for a knife, they gave it to me, the family foodie. That same week I got a lansky knife sharpening kit from my parents. From the first translucent tomato slice I was a quality knife believer.
Then, this spring, while at my in-laws again, I became an exotic wood connoisseur when I wandered into the basement, and found some old boxes of wood, which turned out to be exotic wood collected by my wife's late grandfather. He was a meteorology professor who got to travel all over the world during the 60's 70's and 80's, and he would buy wood on every trip. Often times, to avoid paying duties and export taxes, he would have the wood made into crates, which he would ship his luggage home in, since customs officials never inspected the crates themselves, only the contents. He never made anything from this wood, as far as I can tell, he just collected it, and polished it, like his own private wood museum. Most was and still is unlabeled, except for some with numbers on them. I spent almost an entire weekend sorting through boxes and boxes of glassy smooth turning blanks and irregular scraps, and a few enormous blocks and longer boards. everything from rosewoods and ebonies to burls, and ended up making a knife block out of cocobolo for my in-laws, with my father-in-law's help. From that weekend on, I've been slowly working my way through the collection and identifying some of the species, with the help of a jewelers loupe, and becoming more and more fascinated by it, which led to my next addiction, woodworking.
I soon began looking for tools at estate sales (because quality tools generally outlive their owners) and put together a small shop in the basement, with the goal of doing small turning projects and, of course, knife handles. At one estate sale I found a few boxes of exotic wood turning blanks (I was told the "family wood" is not for me to use until I've proven my skills, and I heartily agree). So now I have my own little workshop, and a bunch of super cheap exotic wood to practice on without feeling guilty about.
So, what do you get when you combine foodiness, knife-obsession, a love of exotic woods, and a new woodworking hobby? You get an aspiring knife handle hobbyist, and here I am, very happy to see that I'm not the only person with this odd hobby.