So good to taste American coffee again and not the coffee the UK sells as American coffee. It’s nice to sit amongst American friends and listen to their different accents. Busy people come and go and here I am eating breakfast and starting my day at 10am. It’s nice to get your cup refilled at no cost past the first one and it’s so nice to feel a part of the people who serve without you feeling you shouldn’t be in the café.
So, let’s get down to business. Tomorrow I will be in Canada. I have much to see and do when I am there and also other things to work on here in US. People rarely get past the airports of New York which is no way to see any where especially the US, but I want to share with you some things that might help balance out our perspectives a little.
Living and working in the UK has been a privilege for me as was my living and working with my American friends in the USA and my Canadian friends too. Working wood has been in a sense the catalyst for many of my long-term relationships in that people wanted to understand more about how they could work wood in a more organic and less invasive way. They wanted to connect to the wood in a way they never felt they could using machines, which led to my establishing patterns of working wood as a curriculum. Let me give you an example: Some years ago a friend came to my classes and learned of the stop-cut method for creating arched work. This is now in my book and on my DVDs and gives a perfect alternative to using say a bandsaw. Now, I can hear someone say, “What’s wrong with using a bandsaw?” and my answer is probably nothing… if you are an adult that is. But what if you are say ten years old? Can you or any parent or grandparent or any adult for that matter put a ten-year old child on a bandsaw responsibly? Now I do know parents who have done this and boast about how great it was for their child, but that’s up to them. I could not do it. Too risky at best and sometimes the results are very permanent.
So here I am looking at some braces thinking they were bandsawn to shape. Very well crafted and smoothly done. As I’m talking to my friend he tells me that he learned the method from me some years ago in a workshop class and had encouraged his friends and their children to do the same to make a series of arched braces.
Suddenly there are children back in the woodshop again. That’s how Working Wood the Artisan Course with Paul Sellers came into being and that’s what it is all about. It’s power to the people again. It’s true power woodworking in the full essence and this is the fruit I envisage from my courses whether it’s through hands-on around my bench or hands-on at your own bench in the garage or wherever. We are taking it back. No longer will woodworking be machine-only substitutes that eliminate children from working wood but it will be equipping them to become competent artisans, yes?
Let’s keep on track with the Real Woodworking Campaign. If you have any stories of your experience working with your children or grandchildren, please let me know and I will consider posting them here. Send pictures too if you will allow me to use them.