Paul, Phil, John and Joseph – the Lads – in the Workshop

DSC_0002I was surprised how quickly John settled back in here in the workshop this week and in my home. It’s as if he never left and yet he has come back 2″ taller and of course wiser too. I am sure his brothers and parents will miss him while he is here. This week we have gone over many woodworking and related issues and he is about to complete the first of two wall clocks just to break him back in. Last Saturday we both went to the local car boot sale and he found a Stanley #4. Something you can’t find so easily in Patagonia. It was nice for me to see him transform it into a perfected plane and then use it through the week and that without help from me. So too he bought chisel sets from Aldi and fettled them to full working order. He and Phil are getting on well and discovering their like interests in woodworking and so on and so the team grows in a spirit of sharing and generosity. Joseph came in to the workshop a couple of times and we all took a break from what we were doing to catch up on our all to busy lives.
I suppose our individual working at the bench is always important to us and Phil is trying to finish up his workbench stool. He has most of the joinery done and the seat is rough-carved so he will soon have it done now that we have about finished the Shaker bookcase series completed. A couple of hours today and it should be done. We have a couple of catch up videos to complete and that includes the plane iron hardening so we can let you all have that very soon I hope.
DSC_0011John is finishing up an oak wall clock just to break him in to the workshop. His second one will have a glass door to it. I remember his coming in to the workshop three years ago when he started his apprenticeship training. He has learned so much since then and seems so confidential works with his hands today. We crammed a lot into his year that year and now he is a man working as a craftsman in his own right.
DSC_0024Progressing the Shaker bookcase has been simple yet protracted. It’s. A full size bookcase with housing dadoes, through tenons and so on, but adding the back somehow transforms the whole piece into something so solidly built it suddenly makes you think heirloom and inheritance. I always like the idea that those who build using the methods we teach have these two words in mind as they are building. That what they are making will not end up in the landfill or being torched in a bonfire. Somehow it defies the big box store mentality we have toward disposable fashion and the neat thing about this is that should you choose, the whole project is scaleable; you can indeed build bookcases any size you want to without changing the methods. Furthermore you can choose any wood you want too.
DSC_0018As I finished off dry-assembling the back frame it was time to turn out the lights and head home for supper. Walking away from the Castle with John and Phil I looked back at the 20′ tall doors leading to my workshop and I felt the privilege of settledness rest on me. Becoming a lifestyle woodworker or a lifestyle anything associated with working with your hands is quite unique in our culture today. Being self employed as an artisan doesn’t at all mean doing your own thing when you want to and how you want to. Somehow Opting out into some undisciplined lifestyle. For me and others it means sometimes working twice as long and twice as hard at what matters to you and to others too. But it’s not to mass make something, anything, it’s more to preserve what you hold dear, what you believe in, and a way of life that somehow counters a culture of disposability. This is the privilege I feel important and I hope to never lose. You feel it too, don’t you?

3 thoughts on “Paul, Phil, John and Joseph – the Lads – in the Workshop”

  1. I know it’s something you care about, so I don’t mean this at all as a criticism: I just wish you had women in your shop.

    1. We actually have much higher percentages of women in our classes here in the UK than in the US and thankfully our efforts on this front are making a difference. In the UK we are now around 35%. The US sadly lags behind in this. Less than 5%. We also offer catch up workshops for women and men new to woodworking, to equal out the disparity that might leave them feeling unable to fully participate because of a lack of knowledge and understanding. So that if they have no experience they can be better equipped and prepared for all of our general courses. That way they are not struggling unnecessarily because of past societal structures, strictures and failures or simply cultural changes and differences. Both men and women are less likely today to work at manual work than every in the history of society. I think that what we are doing is helping but the gap between people working manually and those punching keyboards all day is widening. We’ve done the same across the board for everyone. The last workshop we did of this kind was for anyone but was attended by women.

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