I am a woodworker, teacher and publisher of woodworking instructional bundles consisting of DVD, book, full-size patterns and on-line support. Build A Maloof Inspired Rocker with Charles Brock has sold to hundreds of fine woodworkers all over the world. My newest project Build A Maloof Inspired Low-Back Dining Chair with Charles Brock will be available soon.
When teaching woodworking classes I can quickly tell if a woodworker’s style is that of an artist or an engineer or somewhere in between. Think of it as a ten point scale or continuum with 1 being the artist and 10 being the engineer. This evaluation not only helps me understand how to help students achieve success but it has helped me with my focus on projects.
The Maloof Inspired Rocker project that I teach, like most chairs or functional furniture is evaluated in the end as how well did form meet function? The woodworker’s style dictates what comes easiest and what will be the hardest to accomplish, form or function. I have had students that could sculpt beautiful lines but really struggled with the unforgiving process of creating tight structural joints. They are the artists. Being an artist is a blessing until you struggle on the engineering side of your project. Plans are seldom if scarcely used. They get in the way of what’s important. It’s all form (lines, curve, textures and colors) to the #1 artist. Their chair may look good but might not sit or rock safely. It may never go together.
On the other end of the woodworking continuum lives the engineer. The engineer typically has all the tools perfectly sharpened ready to follow explicit instructions using plans with precise measurements. Joinery is tight and functional and the chair will rock and support the sitter but the sculpting shows a failure to take risks to form their own curves and explore lines that would make the chair flow.
It’s important that you know where you are on the continuum. If you are a 4 you are more of an artist but very close to being well-balanced. An 8 would describe a woodworker whose strong suit was following directions but short on taking artistic risks.
If you know where you would fall on the continuum you will know your strengths from which you can work from and the areas of risk on which you should work the most. The purpose is to grow at whatever you do.
I would like to think of myself as a 5 (being very well balanced) when in reality I am surely a 4 working harder at the engineering side meaning I don’t like to measure or deal with identifying a radius as long as I am happy with the results. Sculpting is my preference but to teach and publish I must identify, quantify and communicate information in an organized, precise way like an engineer.
Think about it!
-- Charles Brock