Some may not know John Winter from a half-decade and more ago, but John apprenticed with me between 2010/14. Well, given half a chance, we woodworkers might choose to craft-mentor those we come to know too, if we have the interests of others at heart, that is. Through three decades I have steered and trained a dozen or more young emerging craftsmen working through their more difficult years of gaining mastery in their craft. Only one or two did give up on those formative years, but for the main part they each remained true to their calling and it is exciting knowing that today they are masters in their own right.
John returned to work with me two weeks ago after a lengthy period studying in his home country of Argentina. He’s here now so that he can deepen his understanding of woodworking as it relates to his life now moving forwards in his later 20s. I first met John when he was 14. He, his father and myself built a workbench from scratch together. John feels that now, since gaining his degree in mathematics and having taught college-level maths for a period, that he wants to pursue his love of woodworking to deepen the connections he made in his formative years. He’s here with me now to seek out its future for his life. I don’t job coach, I simply watch, listen and guide by suggestion. Simple!
Last week john started to build the workbench he will use during his time here in the UK. He will set up his own creative space to establish himself. The bench he is building is the usual one I recommend people start out with and if they are like me they will usually find it suits their long-term needs anyway. Watching him work these past few days is quite the reward for me. His adoption of the methods I taught him reflect the standards of my own working in the day to day. His tools are always sharp and he sweeps and cleans as he goes. He’s systematic and efficient and his work ethic is exemplary. He will make a lot of progress because of his willingness and his maturity. These coming weeks will be very interesting.
As I would, John found his Record vise that is identical to one of mine on eBay for £60. In terms of quality, this one is in excellent condition because it has seen so little use even though it is an older model. This seller said it had belonged to his father who bought it new when he retired. The quick-release works perfectly and there is just a thin coat of rust to be removed from the guide bars.
I will keep you posted on John’s progress over the coming weeks. After making his bench, his next task will be to test the efficacy of all of the how-to manuals I wrote over the past three decades. This will ensure that when we print them they are current and up to date.