In Pete Dexter’s book Deadwood, Wild Bill Hickok’s partner, Charley Utter, is thinking to himself, “He liked having a drawer, it was a neatness you could see just sliding it open.” Making drawers requires a precision and calm missing from some other jobs around the shop. Cleaning out the dust collector comes to mind. Or hand planing some misbegotten wood like a rowed grain khaya. Drawer building on the other hand needs careful measuring, straight parts, and clear thinking to do a good job....
Design starts with a pattern in the sky, a curl in the stem of a plant, the swirl in a coffee cup. It starts with an idea. There is no one single place from which it begins. And so the designer must grab serendipity when it strikes and use it as a stepping stone, a starting point, and then choose from the infinite number of choices then possible. Inspiration is serendipitous. Design on the other hand is hard work and trials and errors and execution. It is iteration and reiteration. It has ...
Think about how you look at others’ work. You don’t look for every mistake. You look at the scope of the project, the effort required. You consider the time spent on design. You see the form, the choice of wood and think about the time taken to mill the lumber. The hours spent on joining pieces together and the detail in the joinery and the weeks spent on shaping and sanding and how the hardware is hung. You step back and look at the whole piece and you know in your heart how much...
Actually, Marc Spagnuolo, aka The Wood Whisperer, and I got together in May to do some work in his shop. I was in the Phoenix area for my mom’s birthday and took some time to meet Marc and visit his place. Take a look at the Jewelry Box we put together. It was fun work. Jewelry Box If you’re coming to Portland, learn about 3 Simple Finishes with me next week at the Studio, 7/24-26. The Northwest Woodworking Studio.
We forget that the moon is out. We forget that rivers run underneath us. We forget that we can make things with our hands and heart.We believe that the world is now held in the palm of our hands. It is instead all around us. We just have to look up and notice it.Remember to remain curious. Believe that you don’t have the only way of doing things. Keep open to change. Forgive yourself your mistakes and keep doing good work. The Northwest Woodworking Studio
How do people engage with your furniture? They look at the form first of course. If they like the shape ofa piece, then they approach it. They eye it to see the wood and the sheen of it. Always, without fail, the very next thing they do is touch the piece. Everyone loves to put their hands on wood because it’s warm, it’s inviting. And if there’s a finish on the wood, then what folks will be touching is that finish. You have to pay attention first to how that finish looks and next how it feels...
A Mastery student of mine came through town to visit. Over 10 years ago he studied with me and he’s building still. Not as much as he’d like but it’s a tough game this woodworking world. Not everyone understands how much time it takes and how much skill. Nor do most people appreciate how long it takes to develop that skill. This isn’t a new hobby for folks that they get good at in a couple of weekends. It takes work. It takes dedication, commitment, practice. I have always found it interes...
In joinery the fit of your pieces is like the fit of your shoes on your feet. If you can toss your shoes off your feet as you hit the couch, too loose. If you shoe horn them in, perfect. A good fitting joint fits snug. No pounding together but it shouldn’t fall apart either. It’s a balance you learn to achieve by sneaking up on it. Learn to use your shoulder plane and you’ll be happy no matter how you cut a tenon joint. Finesse the fit. The Northwest Woodworking Studio
Human all too human to quote Fred N. Yes we makers are too human. We’re too ready to find error in our work. The voice in our head keeps repeating: Not good enough, not perfect enough. We are always so ready to point out our mistakes, to find the tiniest of errors. When our client never sees them. When another maker doesn’t see them nor care. They see the whole, the entire piece and they’re delighted. So I say, keep your standards high but learn to forgive yourself for your errors that no ...
The measure of an eye, of a thumb extended, of one cubit is seen in the result and how well things fit. We all know it when we see it. One can sense the art in craftsmanship by simply looking at the product. Some things we have made work better for the eye and hand. It is not luck. It is the experience of your efforts showing. It is the mistakes you have made along the way and their lessons learned that now inhabit your work. Confidence is gained by your error and more importantly your und...
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