The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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About

Born: July 1973

My name is Bill Lattanzio and I am a hobbyist woodworker. I began woodworking in 2010. I use a mix of hand and power tools and I don’t follow one particular ideology of woodworking. My woodworking philosophy is fairly simple: Use the best tools you can afford, nothing more and nothing less.

I am partial to Arts and Crafts as well as Shaker style furniture but I like just about everything except for ultra modern pieces. I don’t usually follow woodworking plans; generally if I see something that I would like to make I try to base my own designs from the original All of the furniture I build is for my house. If somebody asks me to make furniture for them, I will usually turn them down, politely. Currently I don’t have the time to dedicate to making furniture professionally or even semi-professionally.

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One of the reasons I started this blog is because I know that there is sometimes a lot of confusing/conflicting information in woodworking publications. I don’t like conflicting information, in particular when I’m paying for it. I think that my experiences as a fairly new woodworker could be helpful to other beginner and intermediate level woodworker, or at least offer a different viewpoint from the mainstream. And I hope it’s enjoyable to read.
My day job is electrical planning and sales. This is my first ever attempt a blog. I welcome all comments and any suggestions or constructive criticism is always helpful. I would also like to be clear and state that I use this blog to present my opinions on woodworking, among other topics. My opinion is just that, an opinion. If you don’t like my opinions or ideas, please feel free to tell me. If you don’t like my opinions and don’t want to tell me, that works too. If you do agree with me on the rare occasion and want to tell me, I’ll be happy to hear from you. Nobody pays me to write this blog. I have no sponsors of any kind. I have nothing against that sort of thing, I’m just being forthright; If somebody did pay me I would be honest about it. If my blog postings somehow offend you, please let me know about it. I will at least try to defend myself and offer an explanation if one is needed. Other than that, I hope you enjoy reading it.


28 Comments

  1. jaycwhitecloud says:

    Good Evening Bill,

    I followed several of your posts at “Lost Art Press,” and liked your candor. You present your opinions but leave room to think about it, that’s refreshing. I guess now, since I’m over fifty, and have worked in many art related fields, I’m one of your “stodgy old farts,” that maybe drops to many names, (unintentionally most of the time.) Only my early foundation is in European styles, (Barns that is.) Now I specialize in Middle Eastern, Asian and Indigenous Folk Architecture or teach same and Indigenous Life Skills, (with some adventure sports and guiding thrown in for fun.)

    Finding a young man, that is new to the craft of woodworking, yet articulate enough to start a rather decent blog, (from what I can tell,) is worth following. I will enjoy following your “rants,” and would enjoy any time you would like to ask a question about why somebody else is ranting the way they are, (including myself.) I love teaching these different crafts, (wood, stone, earth, textile etc.) as much as the mediums themselves. To watch or listen to a student glow over a newfound skill or accomplishment brings me as much, (or perhaps more,) pleasure than when I raise a new timber frame. It is nice meeting you. 🙂

  2. billlattpa says:

    Thank you for your comment and also for the nice words. I have to tell you that you made me smile mentioning the old “Euro” cabinet maker comments. I hope it wasn’t too offensive! It was really aimed at one person in particular, a pro/magazine editor who I have never met or even spoken to. I would be shocked beyond belief if he ever read my blog; I was just getting it off my chest. I’ve found that there is a small group of pros who throw out their “traditional European training” resume whenever somebody questions their methods.
    Also, I hope you don’t think I dislike those old “German” guys and their methods. My comments were equal parts honesty, jealousy, and humor. I’m a fellow of Italian/Irish heritage who spent the first 29 years of his life in the heart of Philadelphia surrounded by people much like myself. Now I live 30 miles outside of the city and work 50 miles outside of Philly in what you would call Pennsylvania Dutch country. I will be the first to admit that after you get past their gruffness and grumpiness (along with the accent) these old German guys are pretty fun to be around. I’ve been lucky enough to become friendly with two “old” German guys who are retired furniture makers. Whenever I see them they always take a few minutes to talk shop with me, give me a pointer or two, and sometimes show me photos of their work, which is obviously quite good.
    I do hope you enjoy my blog. I found that I have much to say, being a new woodworker, and I’m usually either working on a project or have one in the planning stage. So I think I have a lot to write about. Woodworkers are an interesting bunch to me. It’s mainly dominated by men who are quite conservative, yet have the almost hippie like hobby of making furniture by hand.
    I also have to tell you; I am a huge fan of barns, both old and new. I love looking at barns under construction, the bones fascinate me. It is one of my dreams to one day own one, possibly even help in contructing it, when I get the money that is.
    Again, thank you for the nice words and the comment. I will always welcome anything you have to offer, even if it’s to set me straight when I’m ranting…

    • Jay C. White Cloud says:

      Hi Bill,

      You are the perfect new acquaintance for me, (hope to become good friends.) You love working wood; you haven’t been doing it to long; you have a sharp-open mind and you rant about whatever you’re thinking about. (I also enjoy the fact that you like to write it all down.)

      As the years have past and I’ve moved through a variety of careers, I’ve gotten to a point where I am teaching, (consulting work is also teaching,) as much as doing the different activities I love. I am now being pressed from several sides to start writing. Publishers want me to write for them, (profit), students want me to make it easy for them (knowledge) to get information I usually just carry around in my head and the last group: “historian types,” are just scared whittles, that I’m going to get killed doing one of my adventure activities before the stuff in my head is preserved. I like the teaching part, to pass it on, the setting it to print, well I need Guinea Pigs like you to tell me if I can or should.

      I’ve thought of “bloging,” (maybe someday,) but there are just too many great blogs and sights, (like yours,) out there already doing that, so I can always add my “two cents.” Why start another? You tell me. Publishing a book just seems to damn pretentious, but too many are asking, so maybe it’s not.

      Don’t you stop writing; your good at it and will only get better with practice. Don’t be shocked if your original target for this blog hasn’t read it. I believe a lot of the pretentious “twits,” read blogs like yours, just don’t have the “stones,” to address you directly and enter into a discourse. There too “busy,” too “important,” to bother. Even if I would stop writing to you directly, at least I took the time to say, “Hello, thanks for contributing, please keep thinking, and writing.” Great writers of fact (not fiction,) are usually teachers at heart (or in reality,) and should want to be challenged by those they are writing for (teaching to.) I have had so many wonderful opportunities to learn amazing things, but my students have always taught me as much as those experiences. Their questions, (and responses to them,) and pushing back when they don’t quite get something is invaluable.

      That “traditional European training,” CV that so many hold up as their answer for being “the Woodworking God on top of the hill,” is “bull-cocky,” and you are correct for challenging it. I usually don’t get my CV out until somebody else does first. They are usually trying to pick a “proverbial fight” and want to prove how big their muscles are. I can usually “suck them in,” with simple dialoged that challenges their standard of doing something, then “slam them side ways,” with my life experience. They either back down, or (as is often the case,) tell be I’m a liar and that know body should believe me; I love that response! Kind of like: “Mommy, that boy was bothering me so I tried to hit him in the nose and he beat me up!!! I don’t want him playing with my friends any more!” Trust me bill, real craftspeople from around the world, European, Middle Eastern, Asian, you name it, they maybe stogy and stubborn in their methodology, but they love to listen and share.

      I make a fare share of my living with barns. (Check this link out. It is one of the companies that broker me: http://www.antiquebarns.net/minka.htm If you would like to have a Barn or Timber Frame home someday, consider it a reality. I have two kinds of clients, the ones that find me through a broker, (they pay full cost plus premium,) and family, friends and neighbors. I don’t own a cell phone; I don’t have a web page, not even business cards. Basically, if you don’t know me (on a personnel level,) you can only get me through a broker. Anonymity is common among artists. An Artist friend, decades ago said: “real Artist are brokered-it’s good for business.” I haven’t had a stellar career but that hasn’t been for lack of business, more me saying no to the “pretentious twats,” that wanted to higher me. So, let me know what your future aspirations in Architecture are for your family, I’ll be glad to at least facilitate honest answers, or help you learn how to cut your own frame.

      • billlattpa says:

        Thank you again for the kind words, they are much appreciated. I again agree with you about craftsmen being a bit stubborn, but at the same time the good ones will keep an open mind and not only share their knowledge but also learn a new thing or two. I will have to check out your link, thanks for sharing it. I think I may have already mentioned it, but owning a barn, old or new, is something of a dream for me. Hopefully one day I will pull it off.
        Thanks again, and I won’t sign off with “Cheers”

  3. Jonas Jensen says:

    Hi Bill

    I had to read a little about you because in one of your comments to the “If they’d had a biscuit joiner..” you atted that you were 39 years old and didn’t have all the time in the world to use in you shop.
    I am 3 months older than you (so I guess I don’t qualify for the old fart badge yet). But I can relate to the case of being married, have children, house job etc. and still would like to get something done in the workshop.
    So I guess that I’ll start following your blog once in a while, to see what is happening in Pennsylvania.
    I suppose that I am a hybrid woodworker as well, since I like using machines and hand tools. I mill most of my own lumber on an old sawmill and I am currently installing yet another sawmill in my barn (even older ~ 100 years old or so). To me that is also woodworking, along with repairing our buildings on the old farm.
    So I look forward to be debating with you in the future on the Lost Art Press blog.
    By the way, I have installed a workbench for my children in the workshop. To have children in a workshop is fantastic.
    Best regards from Denmark
    Jonas

    • billlattpa says:

      Thank you for your comment, it’s great to speak to another woodworker who is not only in my age group, but who also lives in another part of the world. Believe it or not I have known a woman from Denmark for more than 20 years. We still keep in contact from time to time on the internet.
      My little girl has just turned 5 years old and I am just introducing her to the workshop. Most of her lessons involve safety for now but I have also allowed her to do some sawing and hammering with a wooden mallet.
      I look forward to having some good-hearted debates as well. I do hope that you enjoy my blog. I will always welcome any comments or suggestions you may have, even if it’s to tell me I’m very wrong. Thank you again, I hope to talk to you soon.

  4. wunderwoods says:

    Bill,
    I was going through my stats on WordPress (love those things) and saw a referral from your blog. Thanks for posting my link on your page. I love it when I get more readers, and I really appreciate it. I think we make a good combo. We are both getting conflicting advice from the world, and we are trying to help others not make the same mistakes. You’re blog has given me a fresh look at several topics and inspired me to write about a few things. Keep up the good work.

    • billlattpa says:

      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoy my blog and I’m glad I could help. I’ve enjoyed your posts and I figured that if I did other woodworkers would like it as well. I check in with your blog whenever I can. I’m looking forward to hearing from you again. I’m sure we’ll be ranting from time to time.

  5. eddiemyers says:

    thanks for the recent like on my post. I enjoyed reading some of your post. I am a total hobbyist at woodworking. I have built bookcases, cabinets, tables, and some furniture. I can’t say they are professional level but they are still usable after 25 years so I must have put them together right. Best Wishes!

    • billlattpa says:

      No problem. When ever I get the time I try to check out as many blogs as possible. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas. I’m an amateur woodworker as well. Unfortunately none of my close friends are woodworkers so this blog is usually the only place I get to talk shop with others. I try to leave a comment on blogs I like but I sometimes just don’t get a chance to do it. But I always try to let people know if I enjoyed their post. Thanks again.
      Bill

  6. Hi Bill! You comment on Popular Woodworking led me to this site. Nice blog!

  7. woodtroll says:

    Hello. I kind of know what you mean, different publications offer different opinions on almost everything these days. Too much info, but which is right? I’m not much older than you, and I have been woodworking off and on for, well……a long time. In my experiences, the older the information, the more reliable it might be. In the end, it’s all up to what you prefer over everything else. To me, woodworking is nothing short of a passion. Good luck!

    • billlattpa says:

      Thanks. I’ve always said that I haven’t seen a great woodworking book that isn’t at least 60 years old. Now, the new trend is being an “old fashioned” woodworker. I find that somewhat ironic. I personally don’t think that woodworking has changed all that much in more than 100 years. I guess it all comes down to the individual.
      Bill

      • woodtroll says:

        I’ve got a book called Modern Carpentry that was published before 1912. No, most things haven’t changed. Mostly just people’s opinion of what works best (for them).

      • billlattpa says:

        I have an old set of Audels that was given to me by an older coworker that is as good or better than anything published in the last 75 years.

      • woodtroll says:

        I agree with you wholeheartedly. What works for one person, won’t always work for everyone else. I often think I was born in the wrong decade. I’m more old fashioned. I probably should have been born about 40 years, or so, earlier.

      • Marc says:

        Oh wow! That’s cool!

  8. Bartee Lamar says:

    Hey, I just read your About and your piece on freedom of speech. Like both. I will start following your blog on my feedly.com woodworkers list. I also post and read on Google+. You are already in my WW Circle. I usually post WW projects on the WW community and things for all people on the extended circles list.

    A real question !!! How thick is your bench top ??? I am getting ready to build a similar bench and am totally over thinking the thickness of the top. Mine will be maple at least 3 1/2″ thick.

    BTW… Old Fart !!! Will be 66 in Jan 2014. I am retiring and will be blogging more. I am completely reworking my personal website mysaw.com I too am a hybrid WW. I Love my power and hand tools. I totally believe we are all craftsmen if we are happy with our work.

  9. KR says:

    I read your article about SawStop – You might want to look at this rather large document by the PTI – It would appear that SawStops hands are not quite as clean as you think. Link: http://www.fairwarning.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/XXPTICommentsToCPSCANPRFinal0316121.pdf

    I have no connection to either the PTI or SawStop – just a woodworker who has an intense dislike for patents that lead to a monopoly and increased prices for consumers…

    • billlattpa says:

      I’ll be honest, as far as Sawstop corp’s business ethics and such, I’m not sure exactly what they did behind the scenes, though I would bet that everything wasn’t all sweet and innocent. However, as far as their product is concerned, I believe it is a superior saw in nearly every regard to the others being offered on the market. I can say that from experience in using the saw and using other comparable items.

      As far as the PTI is concerned, they are little more than a front organization created by the power tool manufacturers that supposedly presented impartial data about table saw safety as well as were tasked with making a safer saw. Some of the data that they presented:

      Sawstop technology would make table saws too expensive…

      Completely disproved, as Sawstop is the best selling table saw in the country, so obviously somebody can afford to pay for them.

      Sawstop technology is unproven…

      Completely disproved. As far as I am aware, the breaking system has never failed to work in a “save” situation and has many thousands of confirmed saves to it’s credit.

      Sawstop technology could possibly create carelessness among table saw users…

      Not only impossible to prove conclusively, but also unfounded. That is akin to saying that a car with airbags will create an unsafe driver. The PTI simply speculated that a safer table saw is somehow unsafe. BTW, there were no numbers, facts or figures to back that statement.

      The PTI had an even safer, less expensive alternative to Sawstop breaking technology…

      Where is it? It’s been years now.

      Here is what I do know. Sawstop breaking technology was offered to Ryobi and Black and Decker and both refused it. Maybe the founders of Sawstop wanted too high a price, or maybe Ryobi and Black and Decker felt that it wasn’t necessary; I’m not sure. I also know that after they refused the tech, they attempted to have the technology banned and then colluded with other manufacturers to keep it from being incorporated into their equipment, To me, that is two corporations looking out for the best interests of themselves and their shareholders and not the consumer public

      I asked myself a few simple questions when considering what Sawstop Legislation (or whatever you may call it) means to me.

      Would I be willing to spend more money for a much safer table saw? Yes.

      Do I believe that the American consumer would benefit from having a safer, and better manufactured, table saw offered on the mass market? Yes.

      Who benefitted more from the death of this proposal: the table saw user, or the Ryobi and Black and Decker corporations? Seems to me that the corporations got everything they wanted here.

      Did I believe that having this technology available across the board would have lowered the costs and created true free-market competition? Absolutely.
      I have to say, in my opinion, the American consumer didn’t win out here.

      You can easily look to the American auto industry to prove my arguments. For years, they resisted improved breaking, safety features, better gas mileage, and downright better cars, and when competition came along they colluded, blackballed, put out phony safety reports, and tried to discredit foreign cars as “junk”. Fortunately for a lot of people, the Federal Government stepped in and forced the auto manufacturers to improve their cars for the sake of the entire country, not just the profit margins of some share holders.

      After all of the arguing and debate, it doesn’t really matter very much. The legislation failed and the corporations won. Like I said before, I highly doubt that the corporations fought this tooth and nail to benefit the average consumer. So I have to think that I lost out here. Maybe some people out there hate regulations. I’m not one of them. Safety costs money. Safety measures need to be regulated or they are rarely implemented. I understand that, some people don’t. And like I said before, it doesn’t matter now, they won. Any woodworker or would be woodworker can purchase the most unsafe, biggest, cheapest piece of shit table saw they would like and nobody can say a thing about it. So what does it all matter?

      Here again, this isn’t to say that your points aren’t accurate. I would bet good money that they are, but it means little now. In reality, my posts concerning these measures really had much less to do with the legislation and much more to do with the fact that nearly every woodworking magazine editor was dead set against it for some reason, though I know the reason but it is just speculation and opinion. Anyway, the point being, why? The big argument was they were trying to save woodworkers money. Bull Shit. Look at the tools advertised in the magazines and ask who is saving whom money. The other “reason” was that a Sawstop style saw would hurt the hobby/trade of woodworking because of the added expense. Bull Shit. A piss-poor, completely unfounded argument based on pure speculation with not one fact or figure to back it up. As I’ve said before, when you make a mathematical statement such as: an expensive table saw will drive away woodworkers- you had better be able to come up with those figures and add up those numbers, because you can’t answer a mathematical equation with an opinion.

      Anyway, I appreciate your opinion and the link. As I said, it’s all “what ifs” now, because the legislation failed and will never pass. I’m just happy that I was able to say my peace on the subject. Thanks.
      Bill

  10. man grow so,you are doing things that others onlky drean about. hell sale a few hand made items to pay for your hobby. i enjoy reading about things you have done. get real man some things you must take a stand on. i know family is important. but you must have a stress relief or you will go off the deep end. please stay with the craft…god bless you and your family. thats the most i have written on anyones blog good luck…

    • billlattpa says:

      I’m trying. It’s unfortunately a little more complicated than it ought to be. Believe me, I’m not easily pushed around. I’m just sick and tired of arguing over the same silly nonsense with my wife. Thanks for your support!
      Bill

  11. best of luck…tks for your time

  12. Hi Bill.

    I want to thank you. I started to get into woodworking seriously last year and, like most novices, I scoured the internet for information. Your blog shone a light on some of the bullshit out there. I don’t always agree with you, but you’re usually worth reading.

    I know you’ve wondered in the past whether to continue this blog. I hope you do for a long time for the sake of others like me. Plus, it’s been entertaining.

    Thanks,
    Michael

    • billlattpa says:

      Thanks. I encountered a lot of the bullshit myself, unfortunately I fell for some of it, some of it I managed to avoid. There were and are many times that I’ve considered ending this blog, a few times because of the behind the scenes interactions I’ve had with some of the “pros” out there. Most of the time, I just can’t dedicate the amount of time I need to really do the things I would like to do, like add more photos and videos, more details on the things I’m making, etc. Lately, I’ve barely had enough time to woodwork let alone take pictures of what I’m doing, which I would really like to do more of because some of it is pretty interesting, at least to me.
      I appreciate the vote of confidence. At the moment I have no plans of going anywhere. If things go well I’m hoping to get a little more involved in the spring, with a few videos, project plans, getting pissed off again..stuff like that. Thanks again.
      Bill

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