The dawn chorus of cars and eighteen-wheelers begins to replace the cardinal calling from the riverside behind my apartment. In the silence of the night I often hear the river below, but now the new dawn of modern life drowns out the natural rhythms and no longer can pace be defined by the limits of a man’s stride or the gait of a horse. Stirring from my sleep I think of the day yet unfolding and please my heart with the sanctity of honest work. I rehearse an answer to a working problem in the woodshop and wrestle through the concept in my mind until I know how to resolve the question thoroughly. I plan for half an hour and seek answers before the invasion of full life determines my objectives for me.

The work at the woodshop is nearing completion and inside the main class area we are ready for class. The new sets of tools arrived safely by carrier from Canada and others should arrive in the next two to three days. We worked continuously last week to finalize many things with new bathrooms, floors, doors and such to be done. But the greatest great relief to me was seeing the work Tom and Gary did in completing all of the benches. Saturday evening the benches stood scattered amongst the timber-framed posts like islands of sanity. I think with sadness that as we strive to rebuild and re-establish our workshop here in New York, schools across the nation and indeed continents have shut theirs down. Politicians and educators (for some very obscured reasons) made decisions decades ago that rendered our young people dysfunctional, exporting their jobs and future to another continent when they could have been working fulltime here at home. I thought of this Wendell Berry poem:

A Timbered Choir

Even while I dreamed I prayed that what I saw was only fear and no foretelling,

for I saw the last known landscape destroyed for the sake

of the objective, the soil bludgeoned, the rock blasted.

Those who had wanted to go home would never get there now.

I visited the offices where for the sake of the objective the planners planned

at blank desks set in rows. I visited the loud factories

where the machines were made that would drive ever forward

toward the objective. I saw the forest reduced to stumps and gullies; I saw
the poisoned river, the mountain cast into the valley;

I came to the city that nobody recognized because it looked like every other city.

I saw the passages worn by the unnumbered
footfalls of those whose eyes were fixed upon the objective.

Their passing had obliterated the graves and the monuments
of those who had died in pursuit of the objective

and who had long ago forever been forgotten, according
to the inevitable rule that those who have forgotten forget
that they have forgotten.

Men, women, and children now pursued the objective
as if nobody ever had pursued it before.

The races and the sexes now intermingled perfectly in pursuit of the objective.

the once-enslaved, the once-oppressed were now free
to sell themselves to the highest bidder
and to enter the best paying prisons
in pursuit of the objective,

which was the destruction of all enemies,
which was the destruction of all obstacles, which was the destruction of all objects,

which was to clear the way to victory, which was to clear the way to promotion, to salvation, to progress,
to the completed sale, to the signature
on the contract,

which was to clear the way
to self-realization, to self-creation, from which nobody who ever wanted to go home
would ever get there now,

for every remembered place
had been displaced; the signposts had been bent to the ground and covered over.

Every place had been displaced, every love
unloved, every vow unsworn, every word unmeant
to make way for the passage of the crowd

of the individuated, the autonomous, the self-actuated, the homeless
with their many eyes opened toward the objective

which they did not yet perceive in the far distance,
having never known where they were going,
having never known where they came from.

Wendell Berry

The vises we chose are substantially excellent in functionality and quality. I have been using the same one since January and like them more than the Record vises I have used now for half a century. Tom spent some time cleaning off the excess oils and grease used to preserve the new vises and ensuring that they were ready to use a week Monday.

I will drop back on my cupboards this morning. I have them together now and so I will fit out the internal shelving and hang the doors. I have a couple of drawers to make and then all that remains is to paint the outsides.

Soon we will be sharpening the chisels and planes ready for Monday. No mean feat when you think in terms of 85 chisels and 48 different plane types. Not for the fainthearted at all. Thankfully we decided to go with Veritas tools for the main part, so their tools are ready to go straight out of the box pretty well.

  • Paul Sellers on Someone Wrote MeThank you. I don't think that anyone should give up their machines because I or anyone else gives the impression that they should. I doubt that I have ever said to anyone don't use…
  • Kurt on A Gem of a RemnantAnd here I thought I was the only one who found this to be true.
  • Adam on Someone Wrote MeReally interesting discussion here. Could be just semantics, but I think machine woodworking is more of an ability. Something that pretty much all humans have - to be able to feed…
  • Stuart Woodcock on Someone Wrote MeHaving just started my first large project, a 3.5m x 0.85m outdoor table. I have watched a lot of Paul's videos to gain knowledge and inspiration. I can tell you from a novice pers…
  • Stephen Tyrrell on The Draw of Skilled HandsIt goes back much further than that. It was written in the 1920's and has been recorded many many times. Still being recorded by modern swing bands today. A great song and a great…
  • Stephen Tyrrell on Someone Wrote MeIt may be true that your efforts will not influence the mass producers Paul, but you have encouraged, tutored and trained thousands of "lifestyle" woodworkers in a craft that they…
  • Michael McGinnis on Someone Wrote MeThe book "The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World", by Simon Winchester, describes very well how we ended up the way we are today; without the skilled…