Apprenticing young men

I watched John as he worked with me in class today. He moved gracefully from bench to bench, tweaking tools, arranging neatness to the student’s worktops as he passed. Throughout the day his name would be called more and more by this person or that. The students gravitate towards him and have total confidence in his answers and explanations to very specific encounters they could not yet understand.


He has become confident in his position as a woodworker. It’s not what he read, watched or heard about from some third party it’s what he has become and is becoming. It’s from his entering realms of working with his hands that he is able to address questions most of today’s ‘professional’ woodworkers would never be able to answer. It’s through this that he gains the confidence he needs that others now rely on.

John Winter working with Judy on her dovetails

We live in a world where people watch others ‘do‘ crafts on programmes that ‘inform’. The BBC documentaries, PB channels and the like are all informing channels and programmes. They shouldn’t be underestimated in terms of that word: Programme. It’s a programme that people watch. Little do they realise that they are being programmed. They begin thinking differently. I meet self professed ‘experts‘ and self professed ‘highly creative‘ people every day in my workshop. Most often all they learned was from watching programmes that told them they were this type or that type of person because they had merely ‘watched‘ someone else be creative or expert. Problem is they saw no need to ‘do‘ anything because they were now highly cultured creative experts who somehow felt that because they could name a spokeshave or a recognize a dovetail joint they had achieved a unique position when in fact they were merely spectators being no more than the entertained between the three critical high points of their day, which were, breakfast, lunch and dinner. How sad is that?

Get out there and do woodworking or blacksmithing or pottery for yourself. Don’t live in past TV programmes with Monty Don or other programmes you watched or school woodworking classes you had 40 years ago. Time to do something with your life. Something real. Get good at it. Share it with others. Build your own rocking chair or dining suite! Invest in the future. Your future and the future of others!