I spent an all-too-brief couple of days with my friend, editor and co-woodworker Randy Johnson from American Woodworker over the Friday and Saturday and we caught up on a wide range of woodworking issues of concern to us both. Sharing anecdotes and discussing the future of woodworking in the US. Europe, Australia, Africa, the UK and other parts of the world is one thing, being the solution to its future is another. Our concerns paralleled in many areas and issues we discussed at length are actually within our grasp to steer and guide into a positive future. Woodworking as we know it is a distant cry from what it was even fifty years ago and yet there is enough momentum still going to swing it in a positive thrust toward revitalizing the parts we have lost. Understanding the problems is critical to this recovery and one issue I feel very strongly about is a strategy designed to get young people back into working wood through a Real Woodworking Campaign offensive by giving them a safe place to work wood, a knowledge on how to work wood that’s not dangerous yet still very productive and the right tools and equipment to do it. Randy understands my objectives and values and has always been a forthright contributor to what I have to say.
Last week Robert renewed his acquaintance with woodworking after a 45-year hiatus. On the second day he brought an inspiring section from a project he made at just 15 years old. It was a drawer, very nicely made, which I regret not photographing. This drawer had lovely, well-proportioned dovetails in both common and half-lap type in oak. They were his first dovetails and exemplified exceptional quality for the age at which he made them. Now, as a sheep farmer in Cheshire , he was at last realising his dream that started over four decades ago and he is joining thousands upon thousands of others who are discovering the art of hand tool woodworking. How brilliant is that?
Perhaps in future years, as New Legacy grows in regions around the world, we will see the kind of revival that will spark new home businesses, localised support purchasing and a revival of cottage businesses whereby young people can find their productive roots again instead of being pure consumers. I would love to see young workmen again in working clothes, working shoes and with the self-discipline of a good work ethic, wouldn’t you.
Randy, my son Joseph and I spent a great deal of productive time covering issues just like this. We walked the walls of castles, ate lunch within Conwy castle walls and enjoyed our common interest in woodworking. Key to everything as always is a willingness to consider different aspects of any problem not to see so much of what’s wrong but to see what the issues are and the find out how they can be resolved. The climax of the day was a second walking tour of Penrhyn Castle, which I will post on later.