I retired a few years back. The most frequent question asked of me is some version of, “What do you do with your free time?” When I answer that I’ve taken up woodworking, non-woodworkers respond with a blank stare. They can’t imagine what I’m talking about.
This week I was reminded of this, when viewing a DVD from Taunton’s Fine Woodworking about Tage Frid. Tage has been a woodworker for over fifty years. He still worked in his own shop turning out beautifully creative pieces. I was so impressed with his sense of vitality and connectedness with people. Much of his career has been about teaching others the skills he has learned and the ‘secrets’ of the masters.
He is very much like another great woodworker, Sam Maloof. Entirely self-taught and famous for his fantastic rocking chairs, Sam is an elderly woodworker with a passion to share his knowledge. I watched a video-streamed presentation on the Net of Sam Maloof demonstrating the creation of one of his rocking chairs to a spell-bound audience. It was magic!
Then there’s James Krenov, a creator of beautiful freestanding display cabinets, and the founder and director of the Fine Woodworking program at the College of the Redwoods in California.
So why do I mention these men? I do so, not just because I aspire to their standard of craftsmanship, but because I am inspired by their vitality and energy even though they are octogenarians. There was something strangely comforting about watching Tage Frid walk into his shop on a cold snow-bound winter morning. Almost robotically much like he must have done for the past fifty years he turns on the lights, one at a time, a sort of ritual of facing a new day of pleasure at his workbench. Pleasure—not drudgery? Well, judging from his demeanor, I have to conclude he still finds much pleasure in working wood. And I am inspired by the importance these men obviously place on staying vitally connected with people. Theirs is not a selfish, introspective passion; woodworking is simply what they do – a means to an end. They do it because it’s a means of creative expression that brings pleasure to others.
Now, I’m younger than these men, but not by much. They have inspired me greatly and they’ve shown me a meaningful and productive way to spend my “free time”.
-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/