. . . no one should be without. And it was you who said it, not me!
But I somehow can’t help but agree. In ages past the things craftsmen did as a rule were written down but were passed down through the ages. We are still gaining from what was developed as an art form centuries ago and I too gained from men linked in the chain of humble makers. These mostly unwritten gems came throughout my early life as a full-time maker. These things, trade secrets and such, should be passed on to apprentices as they come along but who apprentices anybody these days? Anyway, it got writ’ as best I could and it’s you who said that there is no other book like it and that made me proud!
Everything that’s in Essential Woodworking Hand Tools came directly from my head to the page. I never read up on a tool or a method of working because ot was what I did to make work work. Really, it’s a step beyond having your own reference manual because, unlike a book, all of the details are stored in one place, categorised and internalised in my being as a crafting artisan. Where better to keep it, right? Well, I happen to think that the best place to keep such things safe is in the actual living lives of people who love their craft and do it because they are amateurs. They too then internalise the working knowledge and so it passed on to other individuals through the generations.
Amateurs#!@*&%? Why amateurs?
Because amateurs share their knowledge and abilities with anyone who asks them for advice. Not only do they share it freely and without hesitation they explode with it. And it is more likely that an amateur hand tool woodworker will have the most real woodworking knowledge too because they do read and watch and follow others to gain the knowledge that was indeed mostly hidden for almost a century with the dying of the trade and its yielding to machine work that was in danger of totally replacing skilled hand work. The amateurs I have come across own their craft and they do so because they love it and they love it so much that nothing will ever stop them from doing it. I own other information on many other tools too but I do not consider them as essential as the ones in my book. We amateurs have a habit of collecting things and we store them up for others as well as ourselves. I used to use moulding planes extensively in my work but then grew a strong dislike for the artificiality of the classicism it represented.
I have been a full-time income-producing amateur all of my working life. Things that I learned from elsewhere and in the ownership and working of hand tools I own and I’ve always passed it on. In times past I bought moulding planes and draw knives, axes, augre bits of different types along with other equipment. The best way to understand hand tools and the way to work them best is in the doing of woodworking there at the bench. That’s always what I have done. It was the 6,500 hand tool students who taught me about what puzzled them. I’m no skilled writer but I write; in my spare time, I am an amateur writer, an amateur illustrator and photographer. It’s who I am. What I am not is amateurish. I take my work very seriously.
Writing my Essential Woodworking Hand Tools book was time-consuming but it wasn’t difficult and it took no research because it came from 50-plus years of using the tools every day of my work life as a full-time woodworker and furniture maker. So few books are written that way but I just glanced through some images that took me back to 2015/16, the year when Joseph and I closed the last edit pages before the proofreader and the book designer took it before publishing. If I am ever discouraged for whatever reason I usually pick up the book, read a few lines, a paragraph or two, and ask myself, “How did we do this?” The meat of it reminded me that I never wrote it thinking I would make any money from it either. Since online media came into its own fewer and fewer people would be likely to read a tome like this. Well, according to you, they did.
We just took in a new delivery of books three weeks ago because we were within 100 books of selling out and we wanted stock for the Christmas demand. Considering that we have shunned other distributors and Amazon (who advertise the £35 book at £379 and cannot stock a new version), sales continue at a steady rate and we enjoy the interaction we get with everyone.
The second item, of course, is my Paul Sellers’ router plane made from the kit of metal parts we supply. I have ended up using no other router plane simply because it feels so good to have wood on wood and a hand router plane that has infinite adjustability within thousandths of an inch as needed. There is no rattle as there often can be mettle to mettle and for a small percentage of metal versions, you can own two or three. The book and the router plane kit cost £35 each and both are intended never to date and are for a lifetime of use. You can buy them directly from us here at Rokesmith Ltd.