Thursday 30th March 2017
It seems true to me. Real woodworking is an unstoppable force that carries within itself the ability to influence change and transform lives. This is because it is proving ever more to be rewarding, fulfilling and meaningful. I cannot even begin to tell you the positive influence it’s had on my own life but when I look at the testimonies of others I stand truly amazed.
I glued up the the base frame to my newest laptop desk design on Monday and it went together well. It’s looking nicely new somehow, nothing square, squared off or angular about it, softened profiles and no hand corners to catch legs, knees or elbows on or then again vacuum heads and sweeping brushes. I like sweeps and curves from spokeshaves. You know, unrouted and freely carved out by the twist of an unfettered wrist and then yet too with mitred corners in the solid. Of course we filmed the joinery and methodology for you to learn from, which always has a way of making the simple seem complicated. So we did have moments you can’t really imagine it generally it all went really well too. The pine prototype was one thing, but the oak looks so nice and, though the higher demand of its working gave me challenges from time to time, the greater pleasure of completion with hand tools was well worth the effort.
In another day we host the first class of 2017. The wood is in and mostly milled and the tools are sharp ready to go. It’s a full class as always and that’s the case for the whole year once again. On one level I teach fewer classes than in times past, but that’s because of time constraints. On the other hand our work in filming and writing enables us to reach hundreds of thousands more around the world every month. I think it was just a week ago when we posted our Fibonacci spiral shavings video. Thanks to you we already reached around 300,000 in just 6 days via FB, YT.
Hannah just finished off a chisel tray and starts another project today.
She is a highly motivated woodworker and productive in all she works at and that includes drawing. She produces different aspects of her work in her own unique and refreshing style. We spend time once or twice a week talking through her projects with concepts of design being always at the forefront. She handles the physical work with great precision and controls the tools which sometimes look or seem more awkward than comfortable to her, but I have seen a deliberate certainty in her dexterous control that I don’t see that much in every new woodworker.
For the lid and base to her chisel tray she rose to the challenge of ripping through some 6” wide stock read to thin it down and then planed up the surfaces with her new found but ever-increasing confidence. I find this inspirational. She reminds me greatly of John, my apprentice of 2011-2014. He too remained totally focussed the whole time he was with me and now produces some wonderful designs of his own. Very lovely workmanship. Inspired, aspirational students who want to truly master skilful handwork are few and far between but they are there. John seemed to me at the conclusion of his time with me to know as much about hand tools as me, and he understood many idiosyncrasies beyond his years. Hannah is moving in the same way. Her enquiring mind always digs deep as she works things out and it shows throughout every stage in the execution of her work. In setting her challenges of research she has learned or is learning that over-information causes the ever-greater confusion while finding the balance because of this seems sometimes to be quite elusive. My hope in this is that she will discover what works best for her in the simplicity skill gives to her craft. Already she’s growing experientially through relational working and that’s forever priceless.
I have been setting up my new garage workshop setting this past week and moved in some of my things to simplify organisation. Paring back is my ultimate goal in this endeavour and I am getting there. It is not so much what i work with but support elements that sometimes get in the way to eat up space and occupy territory I can ill afford to give up. That’s often why wall space is more important than base space. I strongly dislike the kitchen cabinet look in workshops and also pegboard with lines drawn around tools and circling the protruding hooks. Some years back I used plywood to make a rolling clamp cart to hold my different clamps. It worked really well for the school but for a domestic shop a roll-around cart is too much of a luxury, especially in an English garage. I am in the process of rethinking and developing something different this time around. This is proving something of a challenge but I am getting there. I also want to maximise my workbench all the further by simplification in the sense that less is more. Because of my innate propensity to gather tools from my UK roots in the single-most industrious nation starting the Great Revolutions of Industry, I tend to overextend myself with stacks of them. In reality my reactionary work stemming from an original thought some 2.5 decades ago to date remains the same—with less than 30 hand tools, generally no more than just 10, you can make almost anything from wood.