And they do come around quickly, don’t they?
I have been interested to share my future with you all for a number of years. My future reflects on the lived life of my past as a woodworker working full time for five and half decades so far. In some ways my past ties in with today’s quest by the older generation (mine) to see the need for adopting a lifestyle that exemplifies care and concern for the planet and then of course care to take ourselves along a corridor that’s not a conveyor belt manipulated by the global economics of consumerism. I 1985 I decided not to buy products that had more than one wrapper when most had three. Waitrose, a supermarket chain here in the UK, sold it’s coffee in disposable cups for a decade. On the cup it had the recycle logo with a small line through and a blurb that looked like it said recyclable but actually, with my glasses for the fine print, it said ‘Not yet recyclable’. So a decade’s worth of cups in the landfill. Disingenuous at best!
We evermore face shouts from the left and right in self-righteous proclamations by the myriad different causes and in a shrunk world few things seem as constant and as consistent as they seemed in our days past. Whereas we did indeed come from the pre-digital world prior to the now sped up world spun ever faster by the digital era and mass misinformation and information. The earlier age I speak of was the age where the results of new scientific developments left out the unknowns we now call consequences. Plastic carrier bags are an instance and then the fleeces we wear and the underarm pollutant stuff too. The time has come when no one can claim ignorance of the present though we are indeed well judged and condemned for all manner of things passed. The one thing we woodworkers can enjoy and be assured of is that wood is one of the most amazingly sustainable resources on the planet. That’s provided we take care of it that is. Remember that the rampant fires in Australia affect all of us as have the same in California and elsewhere.
Wood remains supreme as our resource to make the most remarkable things from. When we do its always a multi use item, be that a cutting board or a rocking chair. All the more is that so if and when we take the time to make well what we’ve made. The woodworking we have, woodworking with hand tools, is well proven technology that’s proven to last for decades, centuries and even millennia. What a privilege to be able to work with such a resource in the every day or weekend of life. We have the proven technology that the wood we use is sustainable and self sustaining as long as we harness any greed that might manifest individually and now corporately. As long as we ask the right questions and do the right thing, no huge conglomerate will be exempt again from any and all accountability, no government or governance and even the very greatest giants in the new-era empire building is too big to be brought down.
A good thing about traditional woodworking is the reality that it does not mean living with the old fashioned or the outdated. Because the human body flexes and bends to every angle under the sun, the tools they handle will shape anything we want or need to. A combination of chisel presentations forms a leaf or a wooden ball held inside a wooden claw and we can with a little or more training work within thousandths of an inch or a millimeter just using our very own hands. Meditate on that for a minute. I mean really, just switch me off, close your eyes and think about your hands cutting and carving and shaping anything you want with your own hands just for a full minute. Go on!
Leave the competition outside the workshop door as I have had to for decades now. Rely on being non defensive for your stance in using your hands and hand tools to work your future. Now competition is non existent to you as it is for me. Let others use terms like, ‘Paul’s way is the only way.’ and, ‘Paul’s way is the high way.’ ‘Paul doesn’t use machines.‘ or, even, ‘He hates machines’, such like that. Anyone that knows even the slightest thing about me knows that not to be anywhere near the truth and it doesn’t at all discredit anyone except the one that says such things.
So my friends and fellow woodworkers, it’s time to just open your eyes to the reality that your wood and your hand tools, a dry place to work and a bench you’ve made yourself makes you a happy bunny. I would that some had taken the time to know me better to find out what I really feel about this or that. I would have gladly talked to them to make things clearer for them as indeed some have. That way we could all share in our joint happiness. The outcome of my life now is many decades of quality output with teaching, writing, developing curriculum, filming and research combined with hands on training and even two current apprenticeships (with four more on the way) exemplifying my ultimate passion for continued training for all.