Hand tools – perfect training for men and women woodworkers

The wood always takes some pulling together for a larger class. That’s magnified a hundredfold by my insistence on milling my own stock for the students. As I twist the boards and turn each piece I think of the men and women I pick the pieces for. I think of things like women attending the classes in the UK being a much higher proportion than in the USA and wonder if America knows why. Knots and shakes sometimes remain and sometimes get cut from the whole. I don’t watch TV but I hear about what’s on from people. Many of today’s heroes have much to answer for and I am grateful for the ‘other’ people, real woodworkers who don’t have the screw guns and high torque drill-drivers and power-routers. When how you handle these becomes the badge by which we are acknowledged as highly skilled I think woodworking will have finally died. I also see enough in magazines and books to see how woodworking is and has been mostly presented through the formative years of DIY and now in its maturity. I have discovered that many men are intimidated just as much by machines as are women. Fact is, there’s nothing wrong with that. Machines can do so much instant physical damage to human life and the materials we work with in a fraction of a second I think it’s great that people understand that they and those around are always in the danger zone so it’s really right to minimize their impact on their life. I am glad to have a greater presentation for men and women. I wish we had more. One of these days we will have more women’s starter classes for hand tools to help bridge the gap and get people used to the work type. I see this as a major failure in our day.

My theory on the men-women woodworking ratio disparity is that their needs to be a transitional period of skill and knowledge transfer to bridge the neglect of many generations and the brutal distortion that presents machine woodworking as the refinement of what was wrong with hand tool woodworking. For a long time I have seen people wrestle with the awkwardness of machines without realizing, during the age when women were banned from woodworking there cam a transition when woodworking became available to both sexes, unfortunately, before that happened, hand tools were mostly withdrawn and machines were imported in. Bad, bad choice. Schools and such lost the significant dimension that hand tool woodworking is as perfect a method for training men woodworkers as it gets. Woodworking is not gender specific. Why can’t we all do it?

Phil and Caleb will help in the class tomorrow. Caleb and his wife Charity are friends from Texas. I have known Charity almost all of her life. Caleb came over for the month, so we will enjoy our time together as he advances his woodworking and teaching and training skills. Phil of course you know

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