Today begins the new Shaker Deacon’s workbench series that deploys hand tools to the whole of the project and no lathe or machines at all. Getting people off the conveyor belt is really working and all the more through our master class videos, which has been something lacking for us over the years. The written word will always be integral to what I do in providing training for woodworkers around the world partly because of my love woodworking and the other part because I love to write. This tandem bike means both riders push and pull on the pedals in equal measure to get my training out there and I should tell you how many page views that is each month. We now have over a 150 videos out there in one form or another and hard to imagine but at least 60 of them are free. The Shaker deacon’s bench series was a pretty bold step if you think about it. No lathe-turned components, no machine jointed edges, no tablesaw cuts and no band sawn shapes at all. What does that translate into? Well, the important thing to remember is this. This bench can be made in about 100 square feet. More is better but it’s still a fraction of what you might need for half a dozen machines. In feed and out feed for a five foot deacon’s bench is 10 feet from the cutter head plus some. Same for the tablesaw, bandsaw and power planer. I calculate about 100 square feet per unit but you can crossover the same space some for a slightly smaller footprint. This is progress everyone. Progress!!!!
Adding into the equation that you provide all of the energy and get your exercise at the same time is one thing, but on the other hand it’s you that’s doing it all too. This the very training I intend for you get and imagine how well you will handle a spokeshave when you are done.
We finishing filming one of the next upcoming series today. It’s not a large piece of furniture like the Deacon’s bench but look at this frame and imagine such neatness without yet again using any kind of machine. In this series we create different moulds in under a minute but I have no router in my shop anywhere. The moulds are made using methods you may or may not have heard of and we use different methods just incase you don’t special planes. We make inlays, and moulds and we use no metal fastenings such as screws, nails or metal curvey bits.
When I run the moulds or cut the rebates (rabbets USA and France) I feel my heart beating by the time I’ve taken around 50 strokes. I push and pull sometimes until my arms or hands ache but I don’t sweat much even in hotter climes. I like the honesty of sweat too though. It doesn’t bother me much at all.
It takes me an hour to make a frame and when I’m done and frame a picture of my son or my grandchildren or a wedding for a friend I feel a certain sense of happiness I rarely feel from other things I do. Working wood with hand tools is different than letting a machine fill your shop with poison and your lungs along with it. I feel my skills working for me and I feel fulfilled. A man came into my shop two days ago and asked me if I made things for people. At first I answered in the negative because I have a lot of work on hand to do. We talked and he picked up a dovetailed corner I made to show a dovetail. he told me he would like to buy something like that because it was so beautiful. he said he would like to give something like that to his grandchildren even though they might not know what to do with it or even want it. I understand when people stop in busy lives to like things skilfully made. I like to make things for people who enjoy what was once called by its simplest of names, workmanship. Workmanship was once the measure of a man who’s work had qualities that needed no proving The man rested in anonymity and peace and pay came with it.