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Forum topic by kolwdwrkr posted 01-31-2010 05:53 AM 1553 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2821 posts in 3587 days

01-31-2010 05:53 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

There’s a lot of people that write books. Some of the topics are repeated over and over by various authors, and of course we all have our favorites so I may buy one from one author and you will buy the same topic from a different author. It’s funny how that works. It’s also funnny that we can come here to lumberjocks and never have to buy another book again. Yet many of us will. I have to tell you right now that I’m an aspiring author. I would love to write a book of woodworking one day. I am very skeptical. I feel as though nobody would be interested because I’m essentially a “nobody”. But I do have a lot to say in a lot of different ways. One thing can be done in many different ways, and I know a few of them. I’ve previously asked what people would like to know. That was essentially my way of asking what would be a good topic. It doesn’t look like anyone here needs any information? Am I wrong? There were very few people that asked about anything, and I think they asked to be nice. Did I come off smug? Like some sort of know it all? I specifically said I don’t know everything, but I know something. I just wanted to share my knowledge, and if I didn’t know it that maybe someone else could share. Then all of a sudden I would know it! Then there’s the feeling that you don’t care about my information because it’s free? If I already had information and was advertising it for sale how you would you view my ideas? Would you pay for them?

So now that I’ve opened a can of worms I’d like to ask what topics would you like to see the most. I am thinking about writing a book with 3 projects. These projects would all be different with different skill levels. They would be very detailed, from safety all the way through the finishing process for each project. It could also be a series. From beginner have 3 projects. Then advanced. Then master or professional. (how ever you view the two)

So lets hear it. What am I doing wrong to gain your respect? Could I write a book that would sell? Or should I stick to my day job and figure out something else that could gain respect from fellow woodworkers? My whole purpose is to follow my motto. And that is to inspire those who inspire me. And if I can’t do that then I don’t want to do this anymore.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

26 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3573 days

#1 posted 01-31-2010 06:09 AM

hey Keith
I like easy reading books with humor like Jim tolpin. and straight real talk Like Charles Neil. No one every knows if a book will sell or not,or if it can get it published. all you can do is give it a go. As a test you might try submitting articles to fine woodworking or Wood magazine an see if they have interest in your subjects and writing style.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3337 days

#2 posted 01-31-2010 06:25 AM

i don’t think you have to worry about being respected ,
for your person or your knowledge .
you have much to share ,
that is what is happening here on LJ’s .
many here swear by norm and others ,
i only got to watch those things in between work ,
and not very often .
some of the joy of woodworking is making your own mistakes .
it’s like advise , everyone needs some .
but few listen .
myself , if you know finishing ,
that is my weakness .
every time i do it again ,
some new thing happens ,
and sends me into a tailspin .

write a book ,
not for what we need , but about what you know .
the open mind is waiting , and evidently so are you .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

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18268 posts in 3672 days

#3 posted 01-31-2010 08:50 AM

I agree with Jim, try the wood magazines and see if you get published there first. I have been published nationally and asked to write for one on a monthly basis, but I turned it down. I know my limitations. Many people have told me I write better than many professionals, but for me it has to coome from the heart. Not something I dial up on demand ;-((

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

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5320 posts in 3878 days

#4 posted 01-31-2010 03:47 PM

Tough subject. Sometimes I just have to admit I don’t know what I don’t know. You got skills I probably have know idea about, or never really thought of ‘that way’. I would love to watch you work and ‘pick things up’.

When I think about some of the popular guys right now, they many times have their own niche:

Norm: Been there, done that, practical, not fancy Pansy.
Wood Whisperer: came out of no where, good guy on camera, got lots of endorsements.
Krenov: Passion, worship, the board will tell you what it wants.
Mallof: Design, flowing, curves, natural.
Tage Frid: Been there, creative, Danish.
Tolpin: Been there, no nonsense, do it and be done.

Maybe you need to think of your niche. We can respond to your thoughts.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

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1580 posts in 3758 days

#5 posted 01-31-2010 04:15 PM

Probably the most prolific woodworking authors are the late R. J. DeCristoforo, and the “present” Nick Engler. You might peruse some of their publications to help sort out your thoughts.

Englers “Woodworking Wisdom” has a lot of good information on almost everything pertaining to woodworking.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4215 days

#6 posted 01-31-2010 04:26 PM

You’re a talented guy, but I think you are looking at this the wrong way.

To write a really good book, you’ve got to figure out what you are passionate about, and write about that. And even then, keep in mind that only a small percentage of books that are written ever get published. And of those that do get published, only a small percentage make any money.

I agree with Steve in that I’d love to watch you work. You have a very “outside the box” mindset. Maybe you should be teaching woodworking.

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

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10880 posts in 3111 days

#7 posted 01-31-2010 04:40 PM

It seems to me that you are ready to start the feather-pen in your mind
so go for it write all you can and write down the things there is on your mind
of what you feel for and how it shuold be done and see what you come up with
and if you feel it spread over too much then you already have started nr. two or ?
you talk abaut 3 projects in a book each have a level of skill or a serie with 3 project
in each of different level
my 2 cent as a total newbee is that you make one with 9 projects 3 of each
level and make all of them detailed with aut saying things more than once so you
cover different ways of doing things

just my humble openion


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#8 posted 01-31-2010 06:20 PM

I agree with Charlie, maybe you should be teaching woodworking.

-- When you know better you do better.

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3587 days

#9 posted 01-31-2010 08:29 PM

I’ve thought about how I can go about teaching, and have even contacted a local woodcraft. They weren’t interested so I hang my head and go about my business of dreaming big. One thing I’ve noticed is that a majority of teachers are published in one way or another. Maybe they have many articles in magazines or have written their own book. So they have credentials. I’m just a shy, regular Joe that nobody knows or has heard of. I have a lot of pieces that I’ve done and none of them have been in any galleries. I don’t throw my work in anyones face. Like I said, I’m shy and I think that’s what holds me back. This year will be the first year I submit a few entries into the Orange County Fair. I also am making a piece I am going to submit to Fine Woodworking Magazine.

I’m not sure how to go about doing anything. I’m definitely pessimistic about everything. Except what I know how to do. And that is woodworking. I can go to the shop and be completely in my element. Comfortable that I can accomplish any task at hand. Even if I have to sleep on it for a few days. If I don’t know how to do something I will attempt it anyhow, and will most likely come up with my own way of accomplishing the task. I think what holds people back is the fear of not knowing how to do something. They need to be educated on how to do it, whether it be from a book, online, friend, teacher, etc. I don’t like that way of thinking because it limits my abilities to what has been done. It also limits your imagination.

Lets use dovetails for example. A lot of people are afraid to make dovetails, and when they decide to take the leap they seek out the proven methods. Why? Why not look around the shop or use your imagination to figure out how you can do it without using certain tools. Or a marking guage. Why does a dovetail have to be X degree angle? Is it your dovetail? Make it yours. Draw lines on the board and have your way with it. You already know you can only go in a certain depth, that measurement is given to you by the thickness of your material. But there are no specific spacing requirements you need to follow. You don’t need a dovetail saw when you could use a bandsaw, scroll saw, coping saw, or any other tool that can cut the material. We are discussing this now without the use of a jig, which is an obvious alternative.

Most likely the only reason I am writing this, or pondering the idea of writing is because I’m frustrated with my own situation in life. I feel like I’ve worked most of my life and have accomplished absolutely nothing career wise. I see people seeking answers to questions and I know I can help, but I sit back and let someone else deal with it. Like the kid in the back of the class room that eats in the cafateria alone. He’s got more potential then you may realize, yet you may mock him as being a loner or an out cast of some sort. He’s got the same dreams as everyone else, he just doesn’t express them. I think I’ve become that person because of the responses I get from those I do try to help. They tend to ignore my advice and continue to seek out the answer from others. In an almost disrespectfull type of manner.

I’ve even had employees try to prove me wrong. I will say how to do something and they will begin to offer their advice. I have always welcomed that because we all have our own ways of doing something. So I tell them you can do it your way as long as the end result is what I want. So off they go full of energy ready to show me the way. A short time later I will go out and see the progress and the mistake is in the scrap pile and they are doing it my way. Nothing is said. They learned something the same way I did. By experimenting the hard way. Usually they do it my way from that point on. But when they are right I learn a new method as well. We are all teachers, we just don’t recognize it.

I have a certain goal in mind, and I think most of us do. I’d like to think I can eventually be one of the greats, up there with Krenov and Maloof. To accomplish that I realize all of the sacrifices and accomplishments they had to achieve to be respected among woodworkers. They have had their ups and downs, and managed to pull through and accomplish what they have. The main reason they were accomplished is because of their focus to their craft. I spend a majority of my time woodworking. When I’m not woodworking I’m thinking about it, and typing about it here on Lumberjocks. I think I’m relatively focused. However, they also had a business sense, or someone who had that for them. The promoters in their lives were their biggest fans as well. They didn’t sit back and watch. They got involved. They marketed and promoted, supported, comforted, and believed in them. For me I have never had this. Those who say they believe in me and support me take it no further, perhaps they don’t have time or don’t believe in themselves. So I seek out the support from others. People who don’t know me. People who should be honest about my work, but praise it instead. This feeds my ego and gives me motivation. Until someone tells their truth and makes me feel that everyone else has let me down by not being honest.

I have became my own critic. I ask for criticism from everyone in hopes that someone tells the truth. This truth will help me by forcing me to realize my own mistakes, or to open my eyes to a new perspective. I’ve also almost given up on myself. I will start a project with the desire to make it great. To take my time on it and get it perfect. But then I get tired of it thinking nobody will care about it anyhow. So I rush to get it done. Sure it’s nice in the end, but it’s not to the best of my abilities. It takes that away from me. Time is my enemy these days as well. I get caught up in so many projects that I tend to lose the goal. The goal is to love the work, to take the time to produce a one of a kind masterpiece. It’s a one of a kind, but never a masterpiece. There is only two projects I have done that I consider having taken all of my soul. The rest of them had the intent to, but didn’t.

In the end you have a fairly good woodworker that nobody really knows. Those who have seen the work first hand swear the work is great. Which is a good feeling. I just want to be seen. And I think most of us want that, and that is why we are here. There are woodworkers that are well known that are mear salesman. They purdy up what you see on the outside to make themselves look great. That is what they have mastered. They are not master craftsman. But you believe they are. I can guarentee you that I’m not a master craftsman at this point either. But I am a genuine craftsman. Without the showmanship and crazy smoke and mirrors. Because I love the craft and the work. The ability to make something from my mind, from the heart. Who knows, maybe writing a book and getting into the spotlight will take that away. And I will become just someone seeking attention and financial gain. And my love for the craft will become lost, and won’t be genuine anymore. For now I will continue to admire those who are truly gifted, and use them as my inspiration to push forward. And I will still offer my knowledge to anyone who seeks it.

Thanks for the comments.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3573 days

#10 posted 01-31-2010 08:51 PM

Ok Keith
Like you I hoped to be a famous woodworker learning with good old Norm. as time went by I realized at my best I’m average, compared to many including you. I think what we all want is validation for what we do
and the better our work the more validation we want, That’s part of why we are here on LJs whether we just made our first 2×4 bench or reproduced a master piece for a museum. I see great guys like Charles Neil that are a super talent and wonder would they rather just be doing what they love best” furniture making” or do they really like all the blogs.filming. and question answering I think in Charles case he’s a born teacher along with his super talent. I guess what I’m saying is be careful what you wish for because you might get it.
What validates us best is when we have made something and you say to yourself wow That’s great. It hasn’t happen to me yet but I’m up to the point that I’ve said that’s pretty good.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 3243 days

#11 posted 01-31-2010 09:11 PM

The best advice for writers is “write what you know.” You obviously know a lot about woodworking, especially cabinetmaking. So, pick your favorite subject and start writing. It can be as simple as start with a basic cabinet and door, then show variations in trim to fit different decor. Your choice, have fun with it, you can always write more. Your idea about trying a few magazine articles first is pretty good, you can show publishers that there is interest in you and your subjects. You also have something that most the celebrity woodworkers don’t-you’ve earned a living on your own two feet.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

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285 posts in 3429 days

#12 posted 01-31-2010 10:30 PM

Very interesting thread.

To respond to the original post: I think I’ve checked out every book on woodworking from my local library branch and only purchased a couple. I am very much a novice with limited equipment. Using that equipment I’ve learned that my abilities are meager indeed. Certainly not worthy of expending the kind of money to get really good tools. I’m near retirement and I realize I’ll be very happy if I can do some built ins in this old house of mine and be wise enough what work I should hire out.

To respond to the second post: the difference between artist and craftsman is very fine, indeed. I sense a search here for art.

-- Caulk and paint are a poor carpenter's best friends

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#13 posted 02-01-2010 12:00 AM


-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

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#14 posted 02-01-2010 12:27 AM

I’m probably my own worst critic on what I write. Remember the info you are going to present is already out there for anyone looking for it in many formats. You need to grab their attention in the first few words and hold it in a entertaining and curious manner to the end. This is not something I or anyone else can tell you how to do. It will be a natural talent you learn to access from within.

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

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3278 days

#15 posted 02-01-2010 12:48 AM


Okay, convince me. Let’s take your dovetails as an example. Why are they better?

Can I ask some questions? First I wonder about the structural integrity of your drawer design. Why shouldn’t I expect short grain weakness of the pins and tails to be a durability issue? Traditional drawer dovetails and construction evolved over centuries and around the properties of wood as a material. Traditional drawer design is amazingly strong and allows for thin drawer sides which maximizes space utilization and makes a light easy to use drawer. Maybe your drawer joinery requires thicker sides for structural integrity but then maybe you’re letting factory S4S lumber dimensions control your design. I can’t tell.

I’m sure you’re a bright guy and a skilled woodworker with all kinds of modern tools. Still, is your intellectual capacity and tooling allowing you to produce superior products to those whose design evolved over generations of professional woodworkers doing their best at their benches? I think the collective wisdom and knowledge contained in traditional designs is significant. Have you studied traditional drawer design and evolution? Do you understand it or are you reinventing it with little knowledge of what’s been done before? I can’t tell much about the tightness and viability of your joints and there’s no indication of how you’ve mounted the drawer bottoms. I can’t tell what kind of support or glide you’re designing in those drawers or even how the face is joined. Maybe the photo is of the joinery at the face and you’re doing exposed joints? I can’t tell but, if it’s the face with exposed joinery, all the fancy work will be hidden when the drawer is closed. You’re not planning on planting another face over what’s shown are you? I hope not.

The woodworkers I admire, like Sam Maloof, didn’t go looking for fame. Fame found them because of their dedication to craftsmanship, their design ability, and their highly developed understanding of the properties of wood as a material. Like you say, there are a lot of “celebrity woodworkers” who are known because of their ability to promote themselves. I don’t find these folks have much to offer me and I don’t pay much attention to them.

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