Famous Woodworkers

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Forum topic by MsDebbieP posted 11-29-2007 06:29 PM 23597 views 1 time favorited 45 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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18618 posts in 4363 days

11-29-2007 06:29 PM

I was asked this question recently and I thought I’d pass it on to the LJ members:

Who is the most famous woodworker?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

45 replies so far

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Douglas Bordner

4034 posts in 4266 days

#1 posted 11-29-2007 06:36 PM

I would suppose to the greater public, Norm Abrahms (after Jesus of Nazareth, of course).
To woodworkers it’s probably generational; Taye Frid, Sam Maloof to us older guys, David Marks and Marc Spagnuolo to the television/internet generation.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

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#2 posted 11-29-2007 06:39 PM

good choices
( I know that Marc S. guy!) oh and the Jesus of N. guy )

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

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5325 posts in 4084 days

#3 posted 11-29-2007 06:55 PM

Wayne might be upset if we did not mention Krenov.

Frank Lloyd Wright, Thomas Moser

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

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dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4517 days

#4 posted 11-29-2007 07:05 PM

One of the things I like about woodworking is “it’s about the work”. I don’t see much in Norm Abrams that’s any greater than many Lumberjocks. Maybe I’m just tired of the whole celebrity obsession thing. There is more entertainment news than real news on the idiot box. Many are famous because they developed a style that caught on, but many times that is just catching a fad not always a sign of master craftsmanship. Many great woodworkers go uncelebrated….kinda like great teachers.

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35149 posts in 4603 days

#5 posted 11-29-2007 07:20 PM

I’m going with Jesus. I’m more familiar with him than any of the other guys.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

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4922 posts in 4239 days

#6 posted 11-29-2007 07:24 PM

I think you’d find that everyone in the woodworking community knows Norm Abrahm. I’d hazard a prediction that if one listed their influences for starting woodworking, Norm would come first or second to a family member.

As you move on in woodworking, you will start to become more familiar with Tage Frid, Sam Maloof, Frank Lloyd Wright and James Krenov.

With the internet being such a strong influence in woodworking, I wonder who might be famous to those woodworkers that aren’t online? I’d be willing to bet that Uncle Bill and that old guy down the block would be the most famous.

After that, famous or infamous would categorize the people that influence you within your circle. To me, the most famous guys are Marc Decou, Lee Jesberger, Neil Lamens, David Pruett, Thomas Angle, Dan Walters, Bob Oswin and the like… a list not meant to be inclusive, but more to make a point.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

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Peter Oxley

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#7 posted 11-29-2007 08:37 PM

Throw Stickley and the Greene Brothers in the mix.

-- -- --

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Thos. Angle

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#8 posted 11-29-2007 08:43 PM

Gosh, Tom, cut that out. I see one you missed, Joesph, Jesus’s father. That father and son team is pretty well known. Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Sheraton, Green and Green, Stickley, all the Philedelphia makers as well as the Provicence gang, then there are all those Shakers. There have been some pretty goo dhands over the years so it depends on your point of view.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

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Dan'um Style

14179 posts in 4185 days

#9 posted 11-29-2007 08:51 PM

don’t forget the mouseman ! Robert Thompson

I also especially like the work of Charles Rohlfs

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

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310 posts in 4050 days

#10 posted 11-29-2007 09:01 PM

Famous is a tough one to nail down, now a “most” influential style would be a smaller group. For me the mission style has become the foundation for most of the contemporary work done today I believe, from the Moorish and then Spanish influence for over 1000 years. There have been departures along the way, but over time it has always returned back to the minimalist/fuction first style. This has been reinforced by more and more Asian themed designs which developed much earlier but with very similar outcomes. I think this allowed the master’s of the 20th century a historical foundation to build upon, Maloof, Nakashima, and so many others. These men as well the others that recieved less recognition, restored the craft of handmade woodworking and the infinite personal effects it can have in our homes. It really is an exciting time in regards to woodworking, we have so much to to draw from in our work. The late 20th century saw a return to the appreciation and respect for the craft of woodworking, whether it be a maloof chair, rocking for minutes,or the strength to share the natural beauty of nature shown in Nakashima’s. I am reluctant to name a name and actually feel bad about those I have mentioned above, just for the simple fact that thier are so many whose name I would not recognize. I cannot deny that “we” all stand upon the shoulders of great masters who’s time with us here on the earth has passed for many and is growing short for those that remain. The world is changing so fast.

-- If knowledge is not shared, it is forgotten.

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Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4077 days

#11 posted 11-29-2007 09:05 PM

I don’t know about famous, but this guy is pretty amazing – Livio De Marchi

-- -- --

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#12 posted 11-29-2007 09:38 PM

I agree with you Peter , no one can touch this guy . he is beyond amazing
He is my first choice by a mile.

-- John in Belgrave (Website) ,

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1789 posts in 4193 days

#13 posted 11-29-2007 11:22 PM

I’d have to mention Roy Underhill of PBS’s Woodwrights Shop. This guy creates neat things using no electricity. It’s all about hand tools, treadle lathes, etc. Pretty fascinating stuff.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

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35149 posts in 4603 days

#14 posted 11-30-2007 01:10 AM

Chippendale is a famous name that other people recognize.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

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593 posts in 4174 days

#15 posted 11-30-2007 09:40 AM

A bunch of quick random thoughts on this:

- We should try not to be so self-centered. I know that this is difficult and the demographics of the website push us towards this but… outside the US (and probably the UK where it has also been broadcasted on TV) nobody knows Norm. And I mean nobody.

- Outside the hardcore woodworking world, not many know Maloof, Nakashima, Krenov, etc.

- At risk of offending the Woodwhisper… David Marks? Who is this guy? Just kidding but, hey, if you don’t live in the US an/or don’t have cable, you just don’t know who this David Something is. And yes, I know well his work and no, I don’t particularly like his style. But to each it’s own that they say.

So I just guess we should first define what “famous” is. sorry Debbie, you just opened the can of worms here. Or it was Pandora’s Box. Don, do you like this box also? I’m sure this magic word will trigger Don’s secret search engine and he’ll soon chime in. ;o)

In a broader sense of the term I’d say that Chippendale and in a distant second place the Shakers would be the most known by those who aren’t wood nuts like we all are.

Sorry if my heretic opinions have annoyed some of you, I just thought I could add my 2 yen worth of “outside-the-country” point of view.

And yes, I do find awesomely inspiring watching Norm on the NYW and I think it goes great lengths as a wonderful display of how to demystify our activity to the eyes of the general public. I just don’t think of him as a great woodworker—and specially not a fine woodworker—. For once, he just copies/modifies stuff and (almost) doesn’t create anything new and, even more important, I just would like him to drop the damn pneumatic nailer forever. Luckily the magic of television prevents us from seeing the legion of workshop elves that go behind The Master filling the holes and fixing the glue he spread out with the damp sponge…

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