The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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Woodworking Rant of the Week


When I’m Master of the Woodworking Universe…
Hand tool purists will stop measuring their shavings with micrometers. I actually have no problem with somebody measuring the thickness of their plane shavings. I do, however, have a problem with a woodworker who brags about his hand tool only work ethic which makes him so much more in tune with the wood and how his skills are so much more developed and how a table saw just powers through the wood without any thought of grain pattern and how the craftsman of yore would never do what the modern woodworker does and how he is bringing back more traditional ways of woodworking….Then what does he do? He whips out his calipers, or his micrometer, or his NASA tricorder to measure the shavings from his smoothing plane because he doesn’t know how to judge shaving thickness by eye. Get a clue! That’s a little hypocritical don’t you think? I’m no expert, but I can pretty much tell right away if my plane shavings aren’t right; it’s not too difficult. If you do need to measure your plane shavings, no big deal. Just remember, when you start pontificating that your methods are better, you are living in a glass house, not a wooden one.

When I’m Master of the Woodworking Universe…
Roy Underhill will switch to decaf. It’s taken me a little while, but I’ve come to like Roy and the Woodwright’s Shop. Roy certainly knows what he is doing, and he is entertaining, but sometimes his breathless style can get really distracting. And even worse is if you catch some of the internet videos filmed at Roy’s woodworking school. I love watching woodworking videos on the net but some of the clips from Roy’s school can get downright frantic. Roy can be found in toolchests, or under workbenches, or sawing thirty boards at once, or hanging from the rafters. I get that Roy is enthusiastic and I think that everybody else that tunes in does too. So Roy, dial it down at least a half-notch. You make Valium nervous.

When I’m Master of the Woodworking Universe…
There will be only one method to sharpen a chisel or plane iron. I own three books on sharpening, and have dozens of other magazine articles and internet downloads as well. Nearly every one has a different spin on sharpening. Some recommend natural water stones, some suggest using man-made water stones. Some say Arkansas stones. Some people think that sandpaper is the way to go, some think that you should hollow ground and some think that you should never use a powered grinder. Free hand vs honing guide, micro bevel or no micro bevel…. This is all just the tip of the iceberg; it goes on and on and on. And every one of them claims to be the best way! The woodworking powers that be should all get together in a room,  pick one method, and go with it. Sharpening is only a means to an end isn’t it? Why are we making it so complicated? If I read another conflicting article about sharpening I’m going to lose it.

If I offended anybody I’m not sorry. This is a rant after all…



  1. Jay C. White Cloud says:

    Rant on brother…rant on!

  2. Tired Doggie says:

    In reference to “how the craftsman of yore would never do what the modern woodworker does”, I once saw a video blog where Chris Schwarz said that old time woodworkers would have picked up the electric tools just for the ease of time saving. I totally agree with this mentality and don’t let the wannabe “old timer woodworkers” get you down.

    • billlattpa says:

      Thank you for the comment. I hope I don’t give the impression that I am against any method of woodworking. I personally am a fairly tradtional woodworker when it comes down to it. I use a table saw and a jigsaw, I also cut a good deal of joinery by hand. I have no problem with anybody’s methods. I do have a problem when somebody says that their method is better than another’s, and I have a real problem when somebody says that their methods are the only way to be a “real” woodworker. As a hobbyist, the proof is in the furniture. If a home woodworker produces quality furniture using power tools, hand tools, or a mixture of the two, why does it matter? This is why terms like “process oriented woodworking” offend me so much. The only people I hear use that term are retired pros or somewhat retired hobbyists who finally figured out that if they take time to enjoy all aspects of a build that simple tasks like sawing a tenon become enjoyable. That is all well and good until they start throwing it in the face of somebody who may not like sawing his tenons by hand. It is about the highest level of woodworking snobbery to say that they are somehow better woodworkers because they enjoy it more. Reminds me of two teenage girls arguing who is a bigger fan of Justin Beiber.
      Sorry, I must still be in rant mode.

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October 2012
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