I did two things this week that started to get me to rethink the design of my workbench. I read “Workbenches: From Design And Theory To Construction And Use” and went by Peach State Lumber Supplies in Kennesaw, GA.
The first made me realize that woodworking is so similar to fly fishing that I am surprised that there isn’t more fish talk on this website. Both have seen their respective glory days come and go. They both were once the practical application of the art. They are both now more art than practical. They both have their share of nose-in-the-air know-it-alls that could turn off even the most ardent supporter of the craft.
Woodworking, like fly fishing, really is simple at its base. You take nature’s designs and patterns and use man’s designs and patterns to make one useful towards the other. You form wood with a too to make it a chair to sit in. You mimic natures patterns to catch fish and eat. Both are peaceful and satisfying.
A cheaper, more efficient, learn-in-a-minute system came around and nearly claimed a beautiful art form. So a thanks to those that dug in their heels. Also, a caution to making things overly complicated and inaccessible. I understand that sounding like you have found perfection and no other inferior process will do makes it sound like you know what you are talking about. I think the same attitude both almost killed off fly fishing and preserved it. It is such an amazing dynamic to see in action. It creates things like tools so expensive it makes you get a second job, but crafted as precise as a Swiss watch. It also makes kids turn their short attention elsewhere and spend money on things that offer a cheaper, quicker reward.
So having read Schwarz “Why these are the only benches you should ever consider”, I started thinking more about my design. Everything in the book is insightful and true to my experience. I realized that I was designing without care to the ease that comes along with the “right way”. I thought about all that was talked about in the book that could help make me a better and then threw out all the “your way is wrong” stuff. After all it is my bench. It has to work in my shop and for me and the things I do. I have a re-design in the works that should help improve this bench and make it workable for years to come.
The second rethink came from Peach State Lumber. I was committed to HD lumber and getting this done on the cheap. Having walked around with all that great lumber and seen and smelled quality, I can’t go back. That place is so awesome. I haven’t fully priced everything out against the competition, but I do know the cost of the table went up. Oh well, I didn’t cry when I bought a $700 fly rod, why cry now!
-- I got something on my mind grapes I need to talk to you about.