I’m never sure when it started, a point where you could no longer determine what something is by its name. A form of sensationalism was somehow loosed and we lost sincerity to titles declaring ‘not ordinary’ that hid what was, when all said and done, intrinsically quite the ordinary. All the handsaw makers followed suit latterly with model names like piranha, sabretooth and barracuda. Then they backed up claims with reference terms such as, “Using a handsaw impacts on all the muscles and joints in your arm. The ERGO™ handle is designed with users, tasks and environments in mind to make the job…” blah, blah, blah! The truth is that saw makers of the 18th century put far more effort into the development of ergonomic design of saw handles than any modern maker and all modern makers either copied what existed or dumbed down the designs to come up with the most basic one-size fits all design.
In reality of course nothing’s really changed except that the handles are pre moulded plastic and the teeth cannot be sharpened any more. I was in my local builders merchants waiting to pay and stood staring at the signage of the two nearest products facing me. Whereas these stab saws and jab saws convey a sense of brutalising aggression, it’s the marketer that suggests that this is what the buyer needs. Aggressive marketers think that that is indeed what the user wants, a kind of macho-man aggression to his work. The packaging has changed to use brighter hi-viz lines, letters and numbers with rip tares and wild hogs with tusks as the marketers way of connecting the would-be user to a sale of his products. Imagine, even a common degreasing agent remains the same as it was ten years ago is packed and wrapped with a punchy headline header, “Cleans like crazy!”, too, but why the wild ‘Mad Hog’ title replete with tusks? Reminds me of the Arkansas Razorback football team. What they don’t probably realise is that they would have sold as well without it. I guess they thought that they had that insider knowledge of what the trades people needed, right?
Of course tools don’t escape the passionate marketeer who actually knows zero about hand work and the tools we need and use. We don’t need daggers and mad names really, what we need is an honest outer with an honest inner. Many things are packaged this way and that includes the presentation of information. Truth and trust matter. It’s all to do with genuineness. So I walk into the wood storage part and flip a few boards and regain my sanity. There is something honest about it. The scents of pine and oak have an honesty to them. The sticky feeling of pine has a cleanness to it. Getting my wood this week was real. Taking it back to my garage workshop was real for me because even though my workshop was built to optimise our ability to film, nothing inside it is staged. Everything in there is where I want it and if it’s awkward to film then it is just that, awkward to film. Now that I have been in there for this length of time, I am at last finding everything in a single glance. I still have more yet to develop, but I will get to that as I grow. The shelving behind me is not twee, cute, pretentious. It’s versatile, open, easy to access and easy to see what I am reaching for. Everything is as I want and I like it.
I have made several projects from my workshop here now. Some largish and some small. I feel quite unrestricted. Truth is I don’t need more space and I genuinely make every project right here in the garage. Whereas I did think that adding in my bandsaw and the extractor might be too invasive, it’s not at all in any way. I hardly notice it actually. It’s the first time for a while that I have actually had access to one. We will be teaching how to use one in the near future and giving all of the considerations surrounding it in the garage. Will I be introducing more machines like planers and tablesaws, mortise machines, routers and such? No. That’s not the plane and not at all on the horizon because they are not really necessary. Though putting those in my space and most of yours may be a possible option, they are way too invasive and would change the whole dynamic of being a woodworker. Not in any way what we want.
MY work is becoming much more valid, valuable and I dare say appealing to a wider audience by simply being genuine and real and without hi-viz packaging and sensationalising overtones. You see it is more about the quiet voice standing out in the shouts and the real contrasting with the skin-deep superficial that counts. Our goal is to reach those searching for real woodworking. It always has been and it always will.