With a full class of sixteen the questions come thick and fast throughout the day. Friendships form quickly and tool discussions start and stop minute by minute as cluster groups share glimpses of their personal planes and spokeshaves with one another. There’s a sort of joyous euphoria around each bench that at most stages of learning ebbs and then flows gently and then crashing highs and lows occasionally follow and everyone engages with the success and momentary loss with a saw slip or a gaping pin recess. There is a unique symbiosis constantly present as saws slice cut the sides of dovetails and pins and many for the first time present the parts one to the other and they fitly unite in harmony to make a single joint.
As we work and share, question and answer, this all male class is both challenged and determined and we dismantle the conveyor belt and the assembly line that so dominates the culture we live in. We have time. We arrest time. The world spins but we suspend the economic pulls of global strategies and the day seems almost without beginning and end. This seamless synergy that flexes the hearts and minds of people working with their hands becomes so focussed, all else, personal problems, work related issues, struggles and so on are somehow placed rightly outside the workshop door. Therapy begins at the bench and troubles seem to melt and when the door opens at the end of the day the size of each problem is diminished to its rightful size in the scheme of life.
I listen and watch. The saws bend and buckle at first. The white knuckles that so bend and twist the saws at first begin to relax and the saw strokes become more locomotive in a well-driven fashion as each user realizes the saws are sharp, well set, rust free and trusty. Confidence becomes more evident hour by hour. That’s my goal as I fashion craftsmen who learn to listen to the saw stroke and the chisel chopping
out the waste wood from the wanted. Jacob Fruchter is helping me in the class and mills between the benches to guide and encourage each man and takes care of many different needs with advice and adjustment as needed. The intensity is thick and visceral, essential and rewarding.
Engineers and businessmen, carpenters and builders, a teacher, dentist and pastor make a collective assembly around my bench and watch as I show them everything I know to equip them for hand tool woodworking. This diverse difference never changes. Woodworking may not be the choice of every man or woman, but every man and woman can master the skills to become skilled woodworkers quickly through interactive courses like this.