Woodworkers Food Chain

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Forum topic by lizardhead posted 04-06-2012 05:46 AM 2168 views 0 times favorited 60 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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652 posts in 2842 days

04-06-2012 05:46 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Have you every wondered where you stand in the food chain of woodworkers. I do. So It brought me to wonder if LJ’s could create a staff of woodworker volunteers to Judge newly posted projects, possible on a 1-10 scale. My thought would be that only 30-40 people would have the ability to rank projects. Those people would not necessarily have to be an excellent woodworker, but they would have to know a well built project when they see it.

What are your ideas . Is it possible.

-- Good, Better, Best--Never let it rest---Always make your Good be Better & your Better Best

60 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10401 posts in 3648 days

#1 posted 04-06-2012 07:08 AM

There’s definitely an equipment food chain. These days the
work most people do is largely defined by the machinery they
have and the design and fabrication possibilities the equipment
opens up. If we were all working by hand on a bench it would
be easier to judge relative skill and inspiration.

Did you know the Greene bros. had a big millwork shop and
a master cabinetmaker at their disposal? The machines
were huge and run on line shafts and the whole operation
was industrial in scope. Without that machinery and talent
to build their designs, not to mention deep-pocketed
clients, the Greene bros. furniture masterpieces would
not exist.

I could go on but I hope the point is made.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3109 days

#2 posted 04-06-2012 07:26 AM

I think there would be some serious hurdles for this to be something worth pursuing. Much of this technical. Photographs can be photoshopped or pictures taken in angles that hide errors. The ability to see if it was well built would be dependant on the honesty of the camera. Not to mention that some woodworkers are skilled at the craft, but suck at photography. In the end, you would end up with more of a photo contest rather than an accurate measure of woodworking skill. Nice concept. Maybe something more beneficial would be a “critique” section in the forums. Someplace where people could post projects that they want the experts to give advice or recommendations for improvement on. Something along the line of “This project is finished but would like some criticism on things I could do better at next time.” This way other woodworkers would know the intention of the poster and know to what level their opinion is really sought.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View lizardhead's profile


652 posts in 2842 days

#3 posted 04-06-2012 07:55 AM

But the dishonesty that you may be talking about is on the person that posted it & they know that if their work is being misrepresented on LJ’s then they also know that the Judging of thier work is not accurate. they are only cheating themselves. Besides a rule could always be put in place to Let’s say weed out—assuming they cannot keep up a falsehood for very long. Now awards are being given only how their work is judged

-- Good, Better, Best--Never let it rest---Always make your Good be Better & your Better Best

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3109 days

#4 posted 04-06-2012 08:41 AM

I understand what you are saying. I just never seen these types of things really end well. Some of the most cruel critics of the work of others here are those that never posted a project and whose craftsmanship is assumed to be top notch. Truth is, some people like to live the life of illusion. Those that are truly honest pretty much know where they stand in the chain. Those that aren’t are either lassoed in by the real authority that is already overwhelmed with policing the site or handled by vigilante means by other members.

Just my humble opinion.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View HamS's profile


1829 posts in 2389 days

#5 posted 04-06-2012 09:15 AM

I think this is an interesting thought. There is definitly a hierarchy of skills. I think it would be useful to have some real criticism of your work, but I do not know how you would do it without hands on and tactile examination.

I know in my music, I really need another musician to really offer criticism that turns into improvement. After you attain a certain level of skill, the outsiders don’t know what is really good from what has been made to sound really good. I think there is much of that in woodworking as well. I have enough experience to cover up a mistake, but a more expert craftsman will spot it right away and be able to help me not make the same mistake.

I suspect that we are our own worst critics, but that requires a fairly appraisal of your own work. It is probably harder to be honest about your own work right after you have finished it than it would be six or eight months later after the memory of the time and effort has dimished somewhat.

-- Haming it up in the 'bash.

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 2408 days

#6 posted 04-06-2012 10:14 AM

LOL…..............I know where I “stand” in the food chain. I “stand” at the bottom! That being said, I’m always looking for others better than I to comment and help me along the way. Liz, I consider you one of those others….....people who are better skilled and more experienced than I am to push me along to do better/bigger things. To just try something new and/or different.

I agree with everything everyone has said so far. Although it would be great to have a panel/forum like what is described, it has a lot of variables that would have to be met by the woodworker and the judge.

Although I am a relative newcomer to woodworking, I really believe I am my own worst critic. That combined with taking heed of what others offer in ways of help/suggestions will only make me better. Better tools will help too BUT if I dont know how to use the tools I have, a better, bigger, fancier tool/machine is not gonna make me any better. I still think one must learn the fundamentals of anything before he can hope to move up the chain.

Anyway, that’s my penny’s worth and I’m sticking to it.

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View Sam Shakouri's profile

Sam Shakouri

1200 posts in 3088 days

#7 posted 04-06-2012 11:18 AM

My apinion it is great idea and it adds sport factor to the craft of woodworkes, and from that factor we can improve ourselve and our craft. Judgement, as you suggested 1 to 10 scale, will be kind of competition without prizes. So, the judges have to take permit from the creater of the project before their judgement. Also, it will be kind of comparison and here we have another problem. Just for example, we can not compare the quality of woodturning project with a cabinet making one. As you know, woodworking has so many categories and when you are good in one of them does no mean you are good in all of them.
This was my idea. Was it possible? I think it is possible but very hard.
And lastly we have to be very careful because as a result we may loose a considerable number of lumberjocks deserting the great wood working site. They may prefare to be not there at all than being loosers. We have to have members who accept criticism, first.

-- Sam Shakouri / CREATING WONDERS WITH WOOD.....Sydney,Australia....

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3286 days

#8 posted 04-06-2012 05:35 PM

Why does everything have to be a competition these days? We see it in all aspects of life. I used to like Food network, but now during prime time, it’s all about who can win what contest, and the focus of the professional judges is to criticize every minute detail, usually for the sake of ripping the contestant apart. Lumberjocks has been about encouraging anyone at any level to do better, but be proud of what they have accomplished. We are about learning, and teaching, often at the same time. I often get pm’s from new woodworkers wanting advice to make their projects better. There is a tremendous amount of behind the scenes mentoring going on here, and people are growing their skills.

I realize that we are frequently a little too positve with our comments on projects (although I think that is typically what the poster is looking for), but do we really want a panel of judges telling us everything we did wrong, and how everyone else may be better than we are? I usually am very well aware of the faults of my projects. People are proud of what they have done. For many, this is the first time they have been able to show off their work, and while it may be total junk to some of us, it is certainly a valid starting place for them. I think I was actually more proud of my early work than I am now. I am rarely totally happy with my work now.

We do have contests here. That is the place for ranking, if we really want to do it, not the everyday posting of projects. Where would you find 30 or 40 volunteers to take on this task anyway? It sounds overwhelming to me.

I really believe we all pretty well know where we stand in the “food chain”, and I’m not sure it matters. I get good ideas from new woodworkers too. Starting woodworking at 12 years old, I’m not sure I needed my work judged in relation to a 40 year veteran, although mine was criticed by a long time veteran frequently. Those of us who want criticism will seek it.

I can be extemely competitive, I just don’t think that is the right place for it.

And that, my friends, is my 2 cents worth.


View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 2419 days

#9 posted 04-06-2012 06:14 PM

What you are talking about could be accomplished by creating a Guild. I belong to The Honorable Company of Horners, a guild whos mission is to educate its members and the public about powder horn working and its history. There are currently about 300 members. The guild is open to anyone and you join at the “Freeman” level. To progress to the Journeyman or Master levels, you must submit examples of your work to a “jury” of Master Horners who judge your work against established criteria. This is done at national gatherings. To see the specifics of the HCH Guild, see this link:
To create a woodworkers guild would be quite a process and certainly would require sub catagories of woodwork such as modern furniture, antique reproduction furniture, boxes on and on. Or maybe catigories based on “made with hand tools or with modern machinery. Perhaps the wood workers have such system, but if not this group (LJ) should consider creating one. The Horners Guild is a very open and respectful and extremely helpful organization that shares techniques freely and supports the preservation of an art form that was nearly lost to time.
Something to think about.

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2504 days

#10 posted 04-06-2012 06:49 PM

I like Dave’s idea. A section where you the poster can ask for brutal honesty. I talked about this in another thread. I for one like it when someone gives me an honest critique. I want to improve.

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2883 days

#11 posted 04-06-2012 07:21 PM

I’d be almost at the bottom! There are projects here that I can see myself eventually acquiring the experience and skill to build, but there are many, many other projects that I can just look at and admire, knowing that I’ll never be able to build them. I personally am not interested in being ranked or critiqued; I am under no illusion that I am the next Maloof. I post my projects simply to share in the encouragement of being part of a ww community; I am well aware of my projects’ deficits and my own burgeoning level of skill. It would be difficult to rank projects as there are so many different styles and skills involved; what represents “good” woodworking? Is it a small box done with simple ww technique but made out of beautiful flame maple or a painstakingly carved figure out of otherwise featureless basswood? Probably every genre of artistic expression has tried to come up with a definition of what is “good”, however it is often easier to identify what is “bad” rather than what is good.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2656 posts in 2922 days

#12 posted 04-06-2012 08:03 PM

The ranking of projects would be way too subjective. When I retired from making sheet metal ducts the LAST thing I wanted to do was any cabinet work…. too much like BIG boxes. It takes a lot of skill ( that I do not have) to make cabinets, (boxes) but I just cannot get interested. Some folks think turning is great others do not. Not interested = a poor judge of different types of projects.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View BlankMan's profile


1490 posts in 3353 days

#13 posted 04-06-2012 09:37 PM

My initial reaction to this was not a good idea. For a lot of the same reasons David and Kent stated. Having 0.1% of LJ’s be the judges for the rest?

IMO the Projects area already does that. Typically it’s positive comments and that’s good, but if the person whose project it is wants that kind of critique in order to learn they can ask for it. There you would have as many judges as there are LJ’s. Minus one…

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

View lizardhead's profile


652 posts in 2842 days

#14 posted 04-06-2012 10:54 PM

If all you can do in woodworking is make a wooden stake or a chalk block to keep your car from rolling then I agree that you may not need to have you projects critiqued, but a lot of us do. If I think that my joints are tight and straight then someone else comes along and tells me that they could be better then I try to make them better just to see if it’s possible. Have you ever taken your project to a state fair or entered it into a local show. If you have—then you are among those who don’t mind, yes even enjoy the prospect of having what you made judged. If you post a project on this site then you are proud of what you have accomplished & whether or not you want it judged-it will be by you and everyone else that sees it. Tell me you can look at a project and not say to yourself—I can do better than that. Every project on this site is being judged, you just don’t see the results, at least not in every case. All I ask is that no-one be mean spirited about openly critiquing. Be helpful in a teaching way. I have seen some real pieces of bad attempts on this site, and if I want to comment I try to choose my words carefully—I don’t want to chase them away from the hobby.

-- Good, Better, Best--Never let it rest---Always make your Good be Better & your Better Best

View lizardhead's profile


652 posts in 2842 days

#15 posted 04-06-2012 10:56 PM

I see a lot of concern that there are too may different categories for this to work—I don’t believe that—Every project could be judged by itself and on it’s own merit.

-- Good, Better, Best--Never let it rest---Always make your Good be Better & your Better Best

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