Friday, August 31, 2012

Thoughts on Craftsmanship

Hey there.

Just a few thoughts that have been spinning in my head that I thought I should write down for the sake of writing.

Woodworking is a creative outlet that I get paid for. Sometimes its a good deal and sometimes not the best deal, but overall its fairly rewarding.

To stay inspired, I hit the woodworking blogs to see what other people are up to and look at the pictures.

All cool stuff, but like many things, a lot of woodworkers spend more time on the internet reading about woodworking than actually getting out and doing it.

Granted, tools are expensive and not always available and wood, even the expensive stuff, can be hard to come by. So the net can be a fix for those short on cash or supplies or just looking for inspiration, but at the end of the day, you just have to get out and do it and see where the rubber meets the road.

Just do it.

Most of what we do at the woodshop is off plan, meaning that with the exception of a few general parameters/measurements, we just build it. It's not the best way to do work, but somehow this works.
I've done simple drawings and stuff for customers and worked from those, but when I look at professional drawings, even for some stuff as simple as a workbench, I get confused. But then I look at the picture and I am all better.

Anyway, some people do a couple projects a year and end up with a disappointment at the end of their journey when the look at their work, even with tight "fine" joinery and nice materials. My joinery is pretty basic, a level or two above monkey work and yet a piece can come out looking amazing.

What I am trying to distill here is that its not about the joinery for me, which it is for some who call themselves fine woodworkers. It is about the wood.

I got into woodworking because I love the wood. I love to be surrounded by it. I love to burn it. And I love to work it. What I attempt to do every time I got into the shop has nothing to do with joinery. It has everything to do with celebrating the wood and producing something that looks awesome and will be awesome for someone. The fact that most of it is glued and screwed with the domino joinery from Festool for the most part, well, it is what it is. The wood is still beautiful, the piece is still functional, and it's all built like a brick shithouse.

Though it smells much better.

This concept was confirmed for me earlier this week when Clare and I visited a new cabin-like general store near Crabtree Falls in Virginia. In exploring their cabin, I looked at all the joinery, the wood, the finish, everything. It was beautiful rough-sawn pine and poplar from the mill nailed to the walls and ceiling. Simple. Gorgeous.  Righteous.

It was nothing fancy or complicated in terms of high art, but the whole place was pretty damn beautiful.

So I will close with this thought. Being a purist doesn't always add up. Sometimes you go with what works, what's comfortable, and what, at the end of the day, kicks ass.

God Bless.


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