Chief Michael Albanese
Chief of Police, Burbank Police Department / Woodworker
How did you first become interested in woodworking?
It all started 35 years ago with a doghouse. I went to buy a doghouse, and it was $65. I said, “I can make a doghouse for under $65.” I was wrong. This was the impetus for diving into woodworking and building things—patio covers, barns, furniture…you name it. While I started big, I have since transitioned into smaller mediums with more intricate detail using varied species of woods such as walnut, cherry, and other hardwoods.
What inspires you creatively?
Typically, my inspiration comes from seeing something, such as a video on YouTube, and thinking, “I can make that.” I then start to explore what different medium of wood would best suit the project. Sometimes these projects turn out to be more than I bargained for, but I have learned to persevere, because I am stubborn, and to see these projects through to completion. The beauty of the end project is the reward.
How often are you able to carve out time (pun intended) to work on your hobby?
I make it a point on my days off to dedicate six to ten hours each day to spending time in my wood shop.
If you could share with our community one thing about the importance of art in life, what would it be?
I believe that art allows you to optimize on your creative side. Although, I really don’t consider myself an artist at all. Those with the talent to sculpt embody what it means to be an artist. With woodworking, the wood will drive much of the project. There is so much complexity involved that I never know where a project will lead until I start to delve into it. The important thing is enjoying the unknown and seeing how a project evolves.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your creative pursuits or appreciation for art?
I have a friend who is also involved in woodworking and who is a true master. He asked recently about using the woodshop to assist a troop of Girl Scouts. I agreed, and when the day arrived, I had the pleasure of meeting five young women who had never seen a woodshop. They were working on a project to house worn American flags to earn The Girl Scout Gold Award. Throughout the day, these young women worked hard to learn what to do and how to utilize multiple pieces of woodworking machinery. I look back on this day fondly as one of the most gratifying experiences I have had in woodworking. The point is that part of the joy in art is in sharing it with others. In line with this, I enjoy making donations to philanthropic organizations such as Burbank Family Services Agency, Burbank Temporary Aid Center, and Burbank Boys and Girls Club for their fundraising efforts. Inevitably, someone who has seen my work will reach out and make additional purchases, which go back into funding more wood to create more projects for more donations.