A conversation with James Krenov

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Blog entry by SST posted 11-01-2009 08:58 PM 1625 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After reading napaman’s blog in which he was looking for woodworking books, I noted a number of comments about James Krenov. I was saddened to note that he had passed away. I had not realized that.

In reflecting a bit on the books of his that I have read and enjoyed for their approach to wood & woodworking, I thought about a conversation I had with him a number of months ago, and how that few minutes had more of an impact than all the books.

Here’s what happened. After reading an article in a back issue of “Fine Woodworking” mag, featuring Mr. Krenov, I went on line to see what other things I might learn about his works. I ended up on a site that appeared to be his site & noted a “contact Mr Krenov” link. It had a telephone number. I figured that it would be the number to a recording, or to some type of comercial link, but it wasn’t.

I called the number and a woman (who sounded somewhat elderly) answered with simply “hello”. I was a bit surprised at this because it sounded like I had reached his home which I wouldn’t have expected, & asked if I might speak with Mr. Krenov. She said, “hold on, I’ll get him”. After a moment, Mr Krenov said hello. I was blown away.

Of course I spent the first few minutes telling him how much I liked his works…both in wood & in print, and then we simply chatted…almost like we had known each other for years. It was amazing. He struck me as a man with a gentle spirit who was very much at peace in his world. He mentioned that his loss of sight kept him from doing what he loved, but he didn’t sound sad in saying it.

I came away from that conversation with a reinforced feeling of why I enjoy some of the more philosophical aspects of woodworking. Oh, I still like to just play with tools and make sawdust, but every now & then I think back on that conversation and I just feel good.

I am saddened by his passing, and glad I had an opportunity to have that conversation. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

7 comments so far

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4312 days

#1 posted 11-01-2009 09:05 PM

Wow Tom!!! That is an amazing story…thanks for sharing it…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View stefang's profile


16209 posts in 3569 days

#2 posted 11-01-2009 10:17 PM

Sometimes we are amazed to find that well known and celebrated people are often human beings much like ourselves. I wouldn’t expect less of a woodworker, even one as renowned as Jame Krenov. Your story speaks well for his humanity.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View a1Jim's profile


117417 posts in 3812 days

#3 posted 11-01-2009 10:20 PM

Very cool story

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3409 days

#4 posted 11-01-2009 11:26 PM

You got to touch greatness. That’s really cool.

Krenov and Sam Maloof BOTH died within a pretty short time of each other.

-- -- Neil

View CaptainSkully's profile


1605 posts in 3793 days

#5 posted 11-02-2009 05:22 PM

I had exactly the same experience with my favorite artist/illustrator, Frank Frazetta. I called a phone number in the back of Heavy Metal magazine and his wife answered the phone. Mr. Frazetta painted the book covers for a lot of Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, and Conan paperbacks. He also did movie posters and album covers. Both were artists in their own right and very generous spirits.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4396 days

#6 posted 11-02-2009 09:43 PM


and now, along with CaptainSkully’s story I am seeing “true greatness” and that humble, human that hands out their phone number for people to contact them directly!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3426 days

#7 posted 11-08-2009 08:16 AM

Well I wish it would have been me instead of you! Tom, you are a very lucky man. Nice story, I am surprised that you didn’t get a couple thousand reads with this story. Well it took me a whole six days to find this artical. About Mr. Krenov, it is said that God, works thru people, think of all the lives that man has touched and affected thru the years incuding yours Tom. What a great legacy.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

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