These past few weeks I concluded just how much I love being with amateur woodworkers. No matter who they are or indeed their background, I enjoy all the more that sense of belonging amateurism alone has. Not only is amateurism seeing a revival attitude toward people learning to work with their hands and with hand tools, it gives me a sense of wellbeing for my craft that’s very refreshing. There’s something I can only describe as an openness and a transparency between amateurs that you don’t see elsewhere in the realms of woodworking. The group as a whole is really quite inclusive and when you find a group coming together there isn’t any standoffishness about those gathered. Rarely is it snobby or competitive, or even self-protective. That’s quite unusual with men but there you have it. Amateurism is alive and vibrantly kicking. I love it and my business card places me amongst their ranks. I did this years ago when I saw the distinction between true amateurism and then the others. Amateurs do what they do because they love the art, nothing would stop them and they pursue their craft at great cost to themselves. Amateurs are like sponges, soaking in everything they learn from whatever source and then filtering out the dross to get to the core of what they value most. Amateurs never work for money or at least money alone but actually do what they do without any great expectancy at all simply because, well, it’s humbling to learn anything and they love the act of becoming what they know they are not. Amateurs live their craft life with a certain edge-of-your-seat anticipation much of the time. I saw this with my new book, and then each new YouTube video and of course more intimately as cluster groups gathered around my workbench over the past couple of decades. The true art of course is retaining the status of being an amateur and eschewing becoming a professional when indeed your work become exemplary and someone pays you to make something for them. Now that takes true humility. That’s enough for me today and tomorrow and on into the future. Spend a little time outside the group of amateur woodworkers and you’ll start to know just what I mean.