The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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My name is Bill. I am a woodworker, and I use power tools.


Earlier today I clicked the reader tab on my dashboard to check out some of the blogs I follow. Lost Art Press posted a blog on “furniture of necessity” I won’t get into the contents of the blog but it was a fairly interesting little post (as I hope some of mine are). After I read the actual post I checked out some of the comments on the comment board, which I often do because I like to see what others thought of the blog and also because often times they can add to the actual content of the post, which is usually a pretty good thing. As I was reading I noticed several comments about which tools to use, would you need a full tool kit, etc…When one commenter mentioned possibly using a bandsaw to prepare stock,  another told him that because this was a hand tool blog, the bandsaw should not be used. Now these two fellows may communicate via the blog on a regular basis; I have no way of knowing. But, even so, I cannot think of a more preposterous and insulting statement to put on a blog comment board. To top it all off there was a big fat link to the Google Sketchup plans for the particular project being discussed. Now I have nothing against Sketchup, I don’t necessarily care for it all that much, but that is just a personal preference and not a philosophical one. But! I do have a problem with chastising somebody for not behaving to the letter like a woodworker from the 18th century while at the same time downloading and following woodworking plans on a CAD program. Am I the only person seeing the irony here?

While I enjoy using hand tools for certain tasks: cutting dovetails, cutting tenons, jointing edges, I also use my table saw for ripping and some cross cuts and a jigsaw for larger curved and decorative cuts. Why do I woodwork this way? Because that’s how I F*cking feel like woodworking, that’s why! I am so tired of this bullshit that it’s going to get me into trouble. Some of you will say that I should just stop reading the offending blog. You are absolutely 100% correct. But it goes beyond that particular blog and is nearing the point of becoming political. I’ve had enough of it. I got into woodworking because I like to make furniture. I got into blogging because I thought it would be fun to share my experiences with other woodworkers and hopefully get the chance to communicate with them and do some shop talk. Instead, I’m reading more and more about those wanting to turn woodworking into an exclusive country club.

Here is my pledge: If I manage to attend a woodworking show in the near future I may make it a point to announce loudly that if you are the woodworking equivalent of a pretentious twit then keep your distance, cause I might just get medieval on your ass. I am not a particularly tough guy, but I’m not little, and I don’t scare easy, and I’m not going to be talked down to, or be told that I’m not worthy of my hobby because I’m not doing it the right way in somebody else’s eyes. So if one of you people who think you are so superior happen to read this, I’ll give you a little warning. IF you see me at a woodworking show or conference in the future, do us both a favor and stay away from me, because we may have a disagreement.

PS If some of the strong language was offensive or seemed out of character don’t think much of it. Sometimes you don’t need to use a 10 cent word when a 4 letter one will do.

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10 Comments

  1. “Hey buddy…it’s going to be o.k…breath, breath,…that’s right… you’re doing fine now, shhh, easy does it. Nurse while he is calming down get 20 cc of thorazine and that nice white jacket with the the tie behinds sleeves….”

    What the doctor/hobbyist woodworker is gonna say next year at a woodworking convention after some gray haired dumbass start telling Bill, “the way real wood workers should act.”

    🙂 🙂

  2. Bill,

    Chris writes with humour (as odd as it may be), but your writing is funnier. And, yeah – I understand where you’re coming from.

    Chris

    • billlattpa says:

      Thanks, I’m glad that you enjoy the blog. I try to make it entertaining and funny and at the same time get my point across. At the same time, if you have any tips or whatever, let me know. I’m always open to suggestion.

  3. Jonas Jensen says:

    Hi Bill

    I guess that you are referring to my comment, since I would use the bandsaw for the ornamental part. And I have never communicated with this person before.
    I don’t know why this other guy needed to “correct” me, that it is a hand tool blog. Actually I believe “The Schwarz” has a bandsaw as well.

    But anyway, it seems that a lot of people feel the need to publicly state the way the blog should be understood (at least by themselves.) And all others that understand it in another way are stupid in their eyes and need to be corrected.
    I also fail to see that one type of woodworking is more correct than another one.
    As long as they don’t insult or attack, I actually just let it pass. I have other things to worry about that if somebody thinks I am using the wrong tool.

    • billlattpa says:

      I am referring to what you had said. I didn’t want to single you out, though, so that’s why I didn’t refer to you by name. Either way I hope I didn’t offend you. Still, I thought that the guy was way out of line. I still can’t figure out how some of Chris Schwarz’s fans have become ,literally, woodworking facists. The majority of the woodworkers on wordpress I would think are amateur hobbyists. We can woodwork however we like. If that is handtool only, powertool only, or a mix of the two then what does it matter? Why can’t somebody like yourself, or me, make a harmless comment or observation without one of Schwarz’s fans “correcting” it.

      I’m a fan of Chris Schwarz. I enjoy his books and DVD’s and I’ve learned a good deal from them. In fact, I just preordered his handplane restoration DVD from the PW website. But I think he needs to step in and do a little moderation on his blog. Now, I’m not talking about censoring comments, just letting all of his readers know that there is room for everybody on his site regardless of how they prefer to woodwork. He continues to talk about saving woodworking and making it accessible and at the same time he and some of his followers alienate many woodworkers by telling them that the only way to be a true woodworker is to follow a narrow guideline on which tools you should use, which way you use them, and now it seems, the style of furniture you are making. In my opinion that is the last thing woodworking needs.

  4. Jonas Jensen says:

    I am in no way offended. Just glad that other people can see the same picture as I can.
    woodworking facists or pretorians is a good description of some of those people.
    But actually I don’t think that Chris Schwarz agrees with all of them, he just doesn’t do anything about it. And that is his choice in my opinion. It is afterall his blog.
    I have also never seen him remove some of the hate comments from trolls etc.

    I suppose it is a bit like hooligans for European soccer teams. They feel the need to boast their own team above all, and on any occasion, just to let the team know that they are a true fan.

    Have a nice day
    Jonas

    • billlattpa says:

      I like the soccer hooligan analogy, it’s a good one. And I’m gald that Schwarz doesn’t remove his hate mail, cause I wouldn’t remove it on my blog either. And I don’t want to attempt to tell him how to run his blog; he’s been at blog writing a lot longer than I have. But here is the but, if he wants to make his blog exclusive to hand tool woodworkers only, that is his choice. However, If he does that, I don’t think he should become preachy when it comes to saving woodworking in a broad sense.
      He must realize that handtool only woodworking will never be viable for the professional woodworker, on a large scale they will never be able to compete. He has said many times that hobbyists will have to carry the mantle of old fashioned craftsmanship. I agree. But to advocate the censoring of other types of woodworking is just as wrong as power tool woodworkers condemning the use of hand tools, which many hand tool workers have accused them of doing
      . What I really think is happenening is his readers, in a attempt to kiss his ass for lack of a better word, take everything he says as bible truth and like true fanatics condemn any other person who may not share the same opinion, however small their disagreement may be. You can see that in the “Schwarz effect” in his tool recomendations. Those are the instances where I think that some moderation of the blog is needed. Like you said, it is his blog and he can run it how he sees fit, but if he ever wants to expand his readership and customer base, he may want to be a bit more open-minded. I, for one, am very close to deleting his blog from my blog roll.

  5. I don’t have room for a band saw; but if I did, I’d use it all the time!

    Chris Schwarz is fast becoming mis-understood I think. We should compartmentalize his work more. The Anarchist’s Tool Chest embraces history and I think the point is to go back in time and live simpler. His Workbenches book, however, is full of band saws, table saws and jointers. The point is to make a useful bench with whatever tools you have/like.

    Many questionable comments seem to be based around the Anarchist’s Workbench – a book about *only hand tools all the time* that doesn’t exist.

    • billlattpa says:

      I honestly don’t think it’s his intention to alienate handtool woodworkers from everybody else. But for some reason there is a sizeable group of his fans that seem to think that is what he wants. At that I really believe he needs to step in and calm everybody down a little bit. When a person who enjoys his blog can’t leave a harmless comment without being jumped all over there is a problem. And the comment I focused on was hardly the worst I’ve ever read on his blog. There have been some really nasty things posted when there is no need for it.
      I can understand it a little if the original comment itself was nasty, but many times they aren’t in the least.

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