This first week of training for Lea and Sam moved along at lightning speed and they have several training projects under their belts already. it’s going to be interesting to see just what we can get done throughout this month. I’m still encouraged that this kind of less formal ‘work to change’ strategy is about the best thing we can do to help others become crafting artisans in their own right. We have taken what we’ve learned doing this over the past 20 years and applied to our online work and of course that’s working wonderfully well too. I had a lovely and encouraging letter (email) from a couple in the Himalayan mountains building their own home who are learning from us online and through YouTube. More and more people are dragging out their dad’s and granddad’s toolboxes from storage than ever and finding an old #4 they can restore and use and they’re doing it very successfully too. I really never expected to see over a million views in any given month but it’s a work-to-change experience for everyone. A couple of years ago I used to talk about Real Woodworking being a campaign to get people doing it in more real and tangible ways and less by substitute methods like machine only stuff.
A few got offended and of course I wasn’t ever saying machines don’t have a place. More that they are highly dangerous, highly intimidating and they take the most massive of mostly unnecessary footprints that will preclude 90% of people from doing it that way. I felt then and now that many people were left outside the workshop because of machines and I also said, “Rightly so.” I wouldn’t have wanted my kids on the other side of a tablesaw or working a chopsaw. It was amazing how many wanted to kick out because of my saying youngsters shouldn’t be near machines or in an environment of machines because of the hazards of machines. Some wrote and said they let their kids use machines from 13 years old. In one year alone I saw a man, a friend from Fort Worth, slice all four fingers clean off on a tablesaw. The other inadvertently trailed his fingers on the end of a board as it passed over the jointer and he too lost three fingers to the second knuckle to the jointer. Just momentary lapses.
I use machines and have done so for 50 years. I know as much about them as I do hand tools and I like them too; they help me from time to time. All I can say is this; all, ALL, woodworking machines are handy and the are ALL fully charged with danger. And what about so called power tools? Well, I have seen enough gnarled fingers from routers to last me a lifetime, but what of such things as drill/drivers? One time a guy caught his thumbnail with a 3/32” drill bit in the battery driven drill/driver. It was only a 14V. The bit caught the nail and pulled the thumb all the way up onto the bit and went all the way through the thumb. Ever had an airmail go in and do a U-turn back out following the grain and into the back of your hand? I used a drill one time that caught in my shirt at the belly and pulled itself in a spin wrapping itself in the shirt until it hit me full in the face and knocked me to the floor with a broken, very bloody, nose. The customer ran upstairs, saw the blood and passed out. Things go wrong with hand tools too, but in my experience, the main difference between a power saw and a handsaw is that when you slip with the handsaw and catch your finger you always stop before you get through the bone.
So here in the shop I have a couple of drill-drivers (screw guns), a bandsaw and an extractor and we get on with our ‘work-for-change’. We reach hundreds of thousands around the world who are discovering and rediscovering real woodworking and the Real Woodworking Campaign is of course thriving in the lives of hundreds of thousands now. Those who do get to spend time extra in my workshop with me and Phil know it’s a privilege and they work all the more diligently to become. What they struggle with, we see and guide them through till they come out the other side with some degree of success. The first week has gone really well. We will see what happens in the upcoming week and keep you posted.