In the face of a seemingly unending pandemic, give today your best shot! This was my feeling throughout the day today. January came and went with the introduction and recognition of new variants which we knew would happen eventually. With all the blame-shifting and mismanagement going on in most parts of Europe and some other continents too, we must face the future with the hope that we can all do our bit despite the constraints of our humanity. It’s been a difficult start with too much hyperbole for my liking, but then we who make have our workbenches laden with wood and tools and the support that aids recovery through our creativity.
Thankfully we are not Presidents, Chancellors and Prime ministers and nor are we broadcasters who interpret what we all just heard from the horse’s mouth because they think what’s said needs their explanations for us to understand. We know for ourselves what it takes to lick things back into shape because as makers and workers we have that unique ingredient to life, common sense with practical solutions. We can all wash our hands, stay two meters apart and wear a face mask to protect one another so we do it. We need telling only once and accept an occasional nudge to remind us. Covid is a serious issue, want to protect our families and friends, co-workers and fellow students. We also know that it’s in the face of adversity that our metal is tested and our character is formed. With January out of the way, I started February with the equal gusto I started January and the new year with. It has been a truly wonderful start to another difficult year and with over one-twelfth of it already gone, I do not plan to waste a single moment of 2021. Amazingly, we in Britain will soon have one-twelfth of the population of Britain vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic. I am grateful that we are all in this together and that we can support those close to us and also those far away. I will get mine this weekend with a follow-up jab two after that. The dates are in the calendar.
I told you about John coming in to develop his future as a maker which I have anticipated for a few weeks. His bench has come together quickly and he has been following our DIY guide and video to building your own workbench to test out the details. He’s very skilled in is work and very self-disciplined too.
This bench is very sturdy yet simple enough to make and follows a more traditional style as an English joiner’s workbench. In my redesigning the making details, I took into account that my attending students 20 years ago were absolute beginner woodworkers. The design and methods I put together bridged the gap to encourage even new woodworkers to build their own first bench straight off because hand tool woodworking demands a good bench with a good quick-release vise if possible. “Bridged the gap?” Yes, I wanted something that looked nice but then something that also looked simple. I did not want a show-off piece! It’s not necessary. Doing this right from the start of anyone’s woodworking future short circuits the learning curve, you see. Why not just dive in? So rather than buying a new workbench that may not fit the budget or even suit the need, space, etc, why not rise to the challenge knowing that hundreds going before them have successfully made the workbench just following the video or reading about it in my blog or in my book. It worked.
You see even seasoned woodworkers have no need for a fancy workbench but they definitely need one that works and is solidly built. Such benches can be quite the challenge, even for practiced hand tool woodworkers. We don’t need and neither can most of us accommodate the behemoths for any of the work we encounter. To make it affordable and accessibly doable, I chose to use construction-grade wood (as in secondhand studs in my case) and even made mine, the one shown throughout the video we made, from recycled wood from a nearby recycling business. Of course, you can use hard maple, beech or oak. That would be nice too, but perhaps a little more challenging for raw beginner.
Hannah too has started back with gusto! She is on her Craftsman-style rocking chair which she should finish over the next couple of weeks. She is now self employed in her endeavour to become a furniture maker and woodworker in her own right. She too is gifted at her craft and enjoys anything creative. She has learnt some sketchup to complement her existing drawing and drafting abilities for communicating her ideas. Soon she will be offering her work for sale and I will help to encourage her as she continues to grow.
Since 1990 I have been privileged to apprentice and trained new woodworkers in furniture making year on year. Making will always be my passion but so too helping others who want become woodworkers in their own right. I have lost track of most of them but periodically I hear of or from them in some distant place. My training changed when I started with the online teaching. I am grateful for both opportunity types in terms of platforms because they somehow give purpose to the future by those who dare to dream and then those who dare to live their dreams ambitiously. It would be impossible for me to take in every ambition but now that the online work we do has proven efficacy I am satisfied that distance learning can and does work as well for those who are willing to invest the time in mastering skills.