What does it mean to be a purist ?

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Forum topic by PaulfromVictor posted 01-19-2010 07:10 PM 3731 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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228 posts in 3307 days

01-19-2010 07:10 PM

I became involved in another thread (Anyone Ever Use PLastic Lumber). An interesting point was raised about being a “purist”.

What does it mean to be a purist? Do you consider yourself a purist? Does being a purist mean that you have reached an elite level of craftsmanship, or does it mean that you fail to embrace new technologies? In it’s most absolute interpretation to be a purist, you should be living in the woods, chopping trees with selfmade tools. Or is a purist more of a relative interpretation. Can you cut dovetails with a router and consider yourself a purist? How about using screws? Polyurethane?

10 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4180 days

#1 posted 01-19-2010 07:28 PM

As it relates to woodworking, I’d say a purist is defined as a person who disapproves of any methods other than his own. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10341 posts in 3390 days

#2 posted 01-19-2010 10:10 PM

Hmmmm, Charlie. Applies to more than woodwork. i.e. I’m banned from the kitchen.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View MrHudon's profile


114 posts in 3172 days

#3 posted 01-19-2010 10:18 PM

Main Entry: pur·ist
Pronunciation: \ˈpyu̇r-ist\
Function: noun
Date: circa 1706
: a person who adheres strictly and often excessively to a tradition; especially : one preoccupied with the purity of a language and its protection from the use of foreign or altered forms

As it relates to woodworking my understanding of a Purist is someone that works exclusively with hand tools.

-- Mark,

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 3967 days

#4 posted 01-19-2010 10:25 PM

””As it relates to woodworking my understanding of a Purist is someone that works exclusively with hand tools.””

But a purist’s purist would demand the hand tools also be made by hand…:)

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View MrHudon's profile


114 posts in 3172 days

#5 posted 01-19-2010 10:46 PM

Miles, good Point!
Guess that makes the caveman and his wooden club the first “Pure” woodworker. ; )

-- Mark,

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3253 days

#6 posted 01-19-2010 10:49 PM

I don’t cotton to that new-fangled Star Trek-style transporter technology where you just “beam away” any wood you don’t want, so that makes me a power-tool purist.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3723 days

#7 posted 01-19-2010 10:54 PM

I think of a purist as someone who, while using power tools, uses traditional methods of joinery, such as mortise and tennon and dovetails instead of pocket screws and staples; Someone who uses real wood rather than plywood for the backs and panels; and has the knowledge and tendency to use several types of handtools before a project is finished.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18241 posts in 3638 days

#8 posted 01-20-2010 12:14 AM

Plastic lumber is not woodworking, it is plastic working. No ands, ifs or buts about it ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View mvflaim's profile


189 posts in 3053 days

#9 posted 01-20-2010 02:06 AM

A purist is some one who builds furniture in the same way the craftsman made it back in the period it was made. Hot hide glue and all. Roy Underhill, Mack Headley and Adam Cherubini are purists.

View a1Jim's profile


117060 posts in 3539 days

#10 posted 01-20-2010 02:26 AM

A purist is a person who operates or proceeds in a manner in such a way that they follow there best understanding of a given subject in a most absolute or exacting way.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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