Last day at Kansas City Missouri

DSC_0190_1Traveling the circuit with the Woodworking Shows has been insightful for me. I can better connect with current trends, that’s true, but beyond even that, I see the damage in our culture that has created a sort of woodworking sterility cloaked behind the words “power woodworking.” Of course I am biased in my approach to woodworking and like many I question the whys and wherefores but I come from the very opposite end of the spectrum in that I rarely consider whether to use a router to cut a hing recess or whether to use a router to cut a dovetail. Fact is, I have never cut a a dovetail with a router because it was never necessary for me to do so. Countering some of the culture that defines woodworking as power tool woodworking can be difficult. Yesterday I crosscut a 1×4 as to men resting tossed sneering remarks toward me as I worked. That’s been very unusual in my experience at shows, but I continued squaring the ends with my #4 and went on as they watched to cut a half lap dovetail. I could see the two men visibly changes as I picked up the Veritas plow plane to run grooves for the drawer bottom and instead of cynicism I saw them start to embrace concepts they hitherto had not considered. This unlocking of the psyche always becomes visceral as they turn to one another and others around them to share in the success they see and feel. The success is my perfected joint or my ploughed groove, but the faith they feel that they too could do what I am showing them now that they have seen it done.

DSC_0176_1As I said, traveling the circuit from state to state gives me insight into both the positive and negative aspects of modern-day woodworking and the quest people have to make something that stands out from the crowd. I realized many years ago that people in every aspect of our western culture constantly seek ways of being accepted. If you are a musician, acceptance comes by your skilled playing. We woodworkers are of course no different, we want to be recognized by others as woodworkers of excellence and skill. There is nothing wrong with that I hear you say and of course that’s partly true. The problem I see is that that quest to to be accepted can indeed create barriers of separation as we unwittingly become, well, exclusive.

DSC_0170_1Meeting people at the woodworking show this weekend I realized once more that the real value in any teacher is if he can create a sphere of inclusivity by a power seldom seen or expressed: Humility replaces what I have just described above. The quest to be known and recognized is subsumed when the craftsman or woman loses his and her identity in the art of their work. This is when craft becomes the art of work and the artisan, still striving for excellence, loses himself in his work. He wants the work of his hands to express something higher than even himself. Losing yourself in your work means finding yourself in realms you may never have known. Just as it’s a powerful thing to be besotted with your own work, humility empowers us to pass on the knowledge and skill we have to others. Looking back, seeing growth, that becomes the reward in itself.

As an add on here this me gluing up the tool chest so i hope today to finish off the main carcass of the box. At the New Jersey Show I will make the drawers.

11 comments

  1. Ken61 says:

    what clamps are you using? And, are they readily available at home centers or at only woodworking ‘specialty’ stores? I need a lot of clamps but would like your opinion on the most bang for the buck (i.e. pound!).

  2. Mark Pelletier says:

    I honestly hate to see people criticize other peoples work right off the bat, without even knowing what makes their techniques successful. It is awesome that you saw a change in attitude after they saw your skills, and I believe I saw similar trends at the New England show this year. You do great work, keep it up.

    On another note, I actually picked up a few of those same clamps that are in your photo at Harbor Fright, last week. Glad to know what I bought will be worth while. I will also be doing your retrofit method on these, great tip.

  3. Johan G says:

    Mr Sellers, will you attend the DFW show in March? After viewing your DVD’s i’m so inspired to start working with only hand tools.

    • Paul Sellers says:

      We will indeed be in the Dallas/Fort Worth show and the other remaining shows after that, which we are really looking forward to. The shows have been seriously top-notch significant in my view.

  4. ello Paul and everyone else in Kansas City MO. The show was an enriching time for me too. I loved the openness and the engaging way everyone interacted. I met some old acquaintances and made many new friends there so that was really great for me.

  5. Scribe says:

    Good job. Remember: you don’t preach to the converted. Your message hasn’t reached the people you want to reach until you finally find people who aren’t particularly receptive to your message. Carry on, sir.

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