I suppose this is the 8th day in the Foundational course and an amazing transformation has taken place—I expect it, but they do not. Their joints are progressing well, critical to the work pieces, joinery somehow transforms the work and elevates it to realms most woodworkers today never reach. Without joinery, all you have is glue, screws, staples and nails. Jigs that incline screws through the sides of rails and are filled with cone-shaped plugs don’t quite enter zones of skill and neither do they improve your wellbeing. Anything that substitutes for skill somehow disappoints you. Most woodworkers reason around this with adjectives fast, efficient, easy and so on, but the challenge isn’t there, the mastery isn’t there and that translates into internal disappointment. Real woodworking is real wood and real tools, not substitutes, machines and so-called power tools that dumb down woodworking to the lowest common denominator.
Men live in a world of toys for big boys and joke about their invalidated lives as kids with big toys. Tonka trucks and transformer playthings of the past have translated woodwork into machines and humorous tee shirts, demeaning the reality of my craft into a joke.
Reversing this may be impossible, but those who discover the art of handwork find real fulfilment because it cost them more than buying substitutes but investment of effort, time and patience.
The next two days are critical to finishing the table. We are working in oak and the parts are now hand planed and mortised ready for the tenons. My methods guarantee perfect results with clean-cut mortises dead square, perfect walls and tenons that fit within thousandths and with no machines present at all. Speed? Well, for me, a perfect mortise and tenon takes me fifteen minutes in hardwood.
They will take longer and for a while it will seem tedious, but if they overcome the temptation to substitute speed for skill, they will discover an efficiency they may never have known and a joy unequalled by any machine.