Orders Of Magnitude, Relativity, Chaos Theory and Compensatory Craftsmanship

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A man begins with timber that was felled and bucked to length with a two handed crossbuck saw, scabbed off with an adze and slabbed out rough with a pitsaw.
The slabs are horse carted to his shop, stickered up and left to sit, hidden from the sun but not from the air, so that the slabs can cure.
In the fullness of time the man returns to the pile and runs a plane across the slabs to check figure and color.
He brings the successful slabs into the shop and renders them closer to final dimensions with crosscut and ripsaws.
He further saws and planes the sticks into the pieces that will form his invention.
He joins the pieces together with hand tools and scrapes them into a condition to receive finish, using pieces of steel that he has formed and tempered himself.
His measuring tools are his intellect and a story stick.
He works for eight days in the shop.
The joints are hermetic.
When he is done, he has created a Goddard-Townsend Blockfront Desk.
A man buys some 4/4, 5/4, 6/4 S4S timber and a sheet plywood.
He spends two days calibrating his tablesaw; one-half day setting his jointer; one-half day setting his shaper; one-half day setting his planer; three days building router jigs; one-half day calibrating his chopsaw; one-quarter day checking everything with a moisture meter; one day reading instructions for his alignment tools; two days studying the effect of gamma rays on freshly sawn cherry...
His measuring tools are tapes, lasers, dial calipers, proprietary devices that are specifically not made out of sheet metal, feeler gauges, mass spectrometers, and generally anything that will measure in angstrom units.
He works thirty-six weekends in the shop.
The joints are hermaphroditic.
When he is done, he has created a Pukey Duck, or perhaps a multi level display device for chatchkies.
WoodDorking has always been about Material, Tools, Craftsmanship and Mind - but the order of their relative importance is relatively important to the final outcome.*
* (concept stolen from a man who taught the throwing of hand grenades, "There are only three things that you have to remember - pull, throw and duck - but the order is very important".)
Regards,
Tom Watson
tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email)
http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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What on earth are you talking about?
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It's about doing something from tree to finish using hand tools (perhaps hand made tools) and getting the final object done relatively quickly because you already know how it will turn out. The skill is in the man.
This different that the guy who has power tools and a lumber yard to buy material from. The skill is in the tools more than the man (sometimes much more). The man spends more time diddling with the tools than knowing the final outcome of the object he intends to build.
On the other hand, if that craftsman had access to power tools and a lumber yard would this be a different story?
Pete
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It's kind of like a door that swings both ways...
--
Often wrong, never in doubt.

Larry Wasserman - Baltimore, Maryland - snipped-for-privacy@charm.net
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If you don't plan ahead 50 years by planting the appropriate trees, then felling them yourself (by chewing through the trunk like a beaver so that you truly understand the tree of course) then sawing it into boards (with a saw you made yourself, while the tree was growing) then scrapped that idea in favor of another plan you thought of while pulling the splinters out of your mouth, planted new trees, waiting another 50 years, sawed, and built the exact same thing someone else made 200 years earlier (from when you started) entirely with hand tools, working only on days when the electricity was out (pausing periodically to walk round to the neighbors to show them how much you're getting done while they are sitting around doing nothing) then your work has no soul and really you're just wasting everyone's time.
Got it now? Good, go plant some trees and we'll see you in 50 years.
-Leuf
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Toller wrote:

I could be double rabbet joint in that it has both male and female parts.
;-) glen
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Um... Are you sure you want male and female rabbets together? You might just get a whole bunch more than you wanted.
Puckdropper
--
Wise is the man who attempts to answer his question before asking it.

To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
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So THAT'S what I've been doing wrong!
--
Often wrong, never in doubt.

Larry Wasserman - Baltimore, Maryland - snipped-for-privacy@charm.net
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snip
snip
What did the customer want?
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On Sat, 04 Nov 2006 11:06:44 GMT, Lobby Dosser

A William & Mary tavern table.
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"Tom Watson" wrote in message

<snip>
A copy of an "Arts and Crafts" pukey duck, using the plans from "Wood____" magazine.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 10/29/06
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Hi Tom,
There is a great deal of virtue in the ability to bring a project from felled tree to a beautiful piece of furniture with nothing more than muscle power and hand tools. But such a task would be considerably more difficult without the aid of tools and techniques which bear the exceptional engineering and fabrication skills of many disciplines. I suppose it's just human nature to demean those who are unfamiliar or misunderstood with absurd characterizations intended to make them look like bafoons. Glad to see that you are human.
I automatically dismiss the obvious implication that the second man represents all those that use power tools because it's patently untrue. Yes, there are some who do nothing more than fiddle around with their machinery and alignment tools. But there are also some who do noting but putz around their "shop" sharpening plane irons and chisels that will never cut wood; collecting antiques which will never be used to make anything; or spending countless hours doing nothing but slicing the thinnest possible shavings from a piece of wood (measuring them with - you guessed it - micrometers!). I must fight my human nature to believe that this doesn't characterize the vast majority of Neanders. The fact is that both of these groups represent an extreme minority among real woodworkers.
There are people who use their machinery and alignment tools to make furniture with the highest degree of craftsmanship. The machines and alignment tools do not eliminate the need for skills, they just create the need for different skills. They also save a whole bunch of time - making it possible to produce more than one or two Goddard-Townsend Blockfront desks (or Wooten Patent desks) from hewn log in a lifetime (many more).
The root of such absurd characterizations designed to make a poorly understood group appear inferior is bigotry - most often arising out of a perception that the other group threatens ideas or ways of life which form the basis of one's core values. It isn't limited to national, racial, religious, or gender groups. The core values and beliefs of certain people in the middle ages were threatened by others who enjoyed viewing the night sky through telescopes so they were characterized as "evil". There are people today whose core values and beliefs are threatened by the use of automobiles and other mechanized devices so they characterize users of such things as "evil". There's quite a rift between blue-collar and white-collar in this country - each side characterizing the other with absurd notions. Democrat vs Republican? Sure, both are evil! Normites and Neanders are no different. They suffer the same human nature - each tempted to characterize the other with absurd notions.
Ed Bennett snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com http://www.ts-aligner.com
Tom Watson wrote:

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On 4 Nov 2006 13:47:21 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com wrote:

Shazzam!
Now I'm a bigot?
Brother Eddie, you need to cool your jets.
My point was and is that too many people concentrate on the tools, rather than the work.
The work that you do tells you about the degree of precision involved.
The table saw is one of the final steps towards good joinery.
It is not the final step.
What you sell treats it as though it is.
That is wrong.
Do you really think that a tenon cheek is ready for the mortise when it comes from the saw?
Do you really think that a cut edge is ready for butting to another as it comes from the saw?
Preposterous!
If the face, or edge has not been worked, it is not finished and can only fail.
The tablesaw is in the same category as the planer, it attempts to level the playing field.
The real work of joinery comes after the rough work is done.
I'm not saying that it does not help to have a perfectly set up table saw - I'm saying that it is a snapshot of reality and that the project goes on beyond it.
Set a saw up perfectly and then run some interesting wood through it for a day.
Then, test it again - what has happened?
It is a roughing tool, not a finishing tool - and it should never be treated as such.

Regards,
Tom Watson
tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email)
http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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Tom Watson wrote:

I wasn't thinking that you were. But, if you are feeling like your core values are being threatened, and you intended those absurd characterizations in your original message to denigrate those woodworkers who choose to use machines and alignment tools, then perhaps you are. My message was intended to promote self examination - glad to see it worked.

My "jets" aren't hot. I suppose that if I were writing a long series of one sentence paragraphs then you might get the feeling that I was livid. But, I'm as cool as a cucumber.

So, it really had nothing to do with the types of tools each guy was using? It's just a coincidence that the guy using hand tools produces a fine piece of furniture and the guy using machinery ends up with a "pukey duck"? The story could then be told by talking about the how the hand tool guy obsesses over sharpening, shaving thickness, dusting the antiques kept in the glass display case, etc. while the guy with machines fills his house with finely crafted furniture. It would have the same point, right?
I suppose the story could also be told so that it reflected no bias at all. The two guys could both be using hand tools or both be using machinery. Then the meaning of the story would be much more clear and not seem so incongruous with the moral at the end. As you told it, the story definitely relfects a rather strong bias (as does your reply).

If you are saying that the end product defines the degree of craftsmanship, then I agree wholeheartedly. If you are saying that the process or the amount of work defines the craftsmanship, then we're not seeing eye-to-eye.

In many cases it is for me. The table saw is definitely not the final step for some joinery (dovetail joints for example). But, I don't have any problem ripping "glue ready" butt joints on my table saw. I've had many people look at things I've made and admire the tight joints in tabletops, desktops, panels, etc. They're all machine made - mostly right off the tablesaw.

What I sell helps to make it possible. High quality and accurate work cannot come from a poorly aligned tablesaw. It also takes a well designed and sharpened blade. Under magnification the cells of the wood appear sheared - not torn or crushed. You can see right through the cells in a short piece of oak or ash crosscut.

I don't think so. I suspect that you aren't familiar with the results that can be had from a properly tuned machine using a sharp cutter. If I had been using hand tools all my life to clean up the poor quality and inaccurate results that come from a misaligned table saw using a cheap blade then I might just share your opinion.

Without a doubt.

Absolutely.
Only if the saw is poorly aligned and you are using a crummy blade.

Please, tell me when they are going to fail. I've got hundreds of such joints in my house that came right off the table saw. Some have been together for nearly 30 years. None have failed. Many have moved from humid and warm climates (Bay Area) to dry and cold climates (Idaho). I know it's only anecdotal evidence but I'm really having trouble believing you. Perhaps if I had made them with a poorly aligned saw and a crummy blade I would better understand what you were talking about.

I guess I really don't follow your logic here. "Level" the playing field? I just think these machines save a whole bunch of time when they are used properly and well maintained.

I save a whole bunch of time and effort skipping the "rough work" altogether. I do the real joinery on the first try, with no need to clean it up afterwards. I don't understand the need to do it in two steps when one step is just as good (and a whole lot faster).
Keep in mind, I'm judging craftsmanship by the results, not the process. If you are of the opinion that the process defines the craftsmanship and that the end result is irrelevant, then we will always disagree. Some guys even leave tooling marks all over their projects as evidence of "craftsmanship". What's up with that? Geez, that's like the folks who use boards with knots just to prove that it's real wood. I'm in it for the pride and quality of the end result. Tooling marks tell me that the "craftsman" was careless and did not pay attention to detail. I have hand planed more than a few tabletops in my day and didn't leave any tooling marks. Knots tell me that the wood is cheap.

There is definitely more to any woodworking project than a tablesaw. Even a well tuned table saw isn't the end-all and be-all of woodworking projects. Yes, I agree completely. But, your point eludes me.

Maybe it's still holding it's settings, maybe it's not. What's the point? I would say that this scenerio definitely justifies the need for a good alignment tool!

Hmmmmm......Yesterday I would have called a brush a "finishing tool" but I think I know what you are talking about here. If I believed that my self worth was tied up in the skills to clean up after a poorly maintained table saw then I might feel a bit threatened by those who could achieve equivalent quality craftsmanship without doing (or even knowing how to do) any cleanup work at all. If I thought that "how hard you work" was a better measure of craftsmanship than the quality of the end result then I might be threatened by those who produce equivalent quality work with a lot less effort. I might even be inclined to criticize their work and create absurd characterizations to make them look like bafoons. Fortunately, people appreciate what I make, not what I go through to make it.
These sorts of situations always remind me of an episode of the old TV series M*A*S*H. Frank is looking to get a local craftsman to carve something for him. He asks the craftsman to show him an example of his work. They guy hands a 2x4 to Frank. Frank says "This is just a 2x4!". The craftsman, glowing with pride, says "Thank you!".
Up above you started by saying your "...point was and is that too many people concentrate on the tools, rather than the work." But, your entire reply is devoted to explaining how inadequate the table saw is at producing glue-ready joints. It appears to follw the same pattern that your oringinal post did. One (or two) sentences with the main point and a whole bunch of other stuff about the merits of hand tools over machinery. In spite of the many one sentence paragraphs protesting what I said, I think I nailed this one the first time. ;-) Think about it, the table saw bothers you because you care more about the tools.
Ed Bennett snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com http://www.ts-aligner.com
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On 6 Nov 2006 19:19:06 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com wrote:

I showed you mine.
When are you going to show me yours?
Regards,
Tom Watson
tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email)
http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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OH WHY OH WHY Can't we all just get along........

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Tall Oak wrote:

Perhaps this is why woodworkers spend a great deal of time in their shops...... alone. <g>
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Regardless of the ACTUAL temperature of your jets, I have to say they sounded hot. It sounds like you feel the need to defend yourself - do you really think someone is going to give up on their table saw (and not buy your aligner) because of Tom's post? In the recent thread following your TS-aligner sale post, I was very impressed at your business philosophy, incorporating others' ideas, standing behind your product because it works, and encouraging people to try it for themselves or make something better if they don't believe you. Thus your defensive-sounding reply here surprised me. I haven't seen Steve Knight or Robin Lee respond like that to a post here about some handy new power-tool jig...
I have no doubt that your product is the best of its kind on the market, and as a user of both power and hand tools, I'm not saying either is superior. But I am curious why you apparently feel threatened by someone extoling the increasingly rare virtues of craftsmanship, just because the craftsman in his example used hand tools. Sure, there are plenty of "woodworkers" who buy expensive planes and chisels just because they're expensive or pretty, and then spend most of their time diddling with them instead of using them to their fullest potential. Just as there are with power-tool-happy "woodworkers", who buy a machine just because of a new gimmick or an HP rating. But I don't think that was the point of the OP. (Note - this defense of Tom's original post doesn't necessarily extend to the rest of the thread...)
When I read the original post, the point I took away was apparently the one Tom intended: the real woodworker's focus should be on the work, not the tools, and that a bunch of fancy expensive tools (whether they are of the tailed or hand variety) are not necessary to produce good work. For me, the point of woodworking is to enjoy the process, to challenge myself, and to come out with a functional and hopefully attractive piece of furniture when I'm done. I don't like to waste time, but I don't need to rush through it either. (Yes, I know those who have deadlines and/or customers to satisfy are in an entirely different situation here.) But I appreciated Tom's initial reminder that gadgets don't make the woodworker.
(Of course, if your hobby is fiddling with power tools or sharpening expensive hand tools, at least you're not causing trouble for other people or the environment, as you would be with many other hobbies...)
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[snipped for brevity]
I know a guy who owns about 25 immaculate Gibson guitars. Can't play a lick.
But he can hum a tune or two. Quite well at that.
He's a collector, not a musician. He appreciates the art and craftsmanship that went into the making of a Hummingbird or Dove. --------------------------- I went to see John Prine a few weeks ago. He plays an old beat-up Martin D-28 (used to belong to Steve Goodman). By now you have an idea where I am going with this? ---------------------------- A local contractor was spouting off about "the old days when carpenters were carpenters" and that HE could do anything the young bucks could do without all them fancypants powertools. So I handed him an eight foot 2x4 and a handsaw and asked him to take off 1/4"...along the length.
He told me to go screw myself. ---------------------------- "It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools", said he, who stood on top of a 24' ladder with a dead battery in his cordless drill. ---------------------------- All in all, I completely understand where Tom is coming from but that doesn't take away the fact that one of my business cards says: Old world craftsmanship, new world technology.
There is the delicate blend of arts and crafts.
r
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Why is then that Tom turns out a post pretty much exactly like this every now and again and it's always the hand tool using guy that is the brilliant craftsman and the power tool user that can't find his way around the lumberyard? If he means to suggest something else then perhaps he should start mixing up his stories a bit.
On a digital photography site I visit there are an enormous number of people referred to as "measurbaters" who like to compare the photos from compares on a pixel by pixel basis and like to point out things that no one but they can see that are just horrible and make the camera utterly useless. And they have to have the latest camera of course. And you never see any actual photographs from these people. The number of photographers there with any actual talent is very small (and I'm not one of them) and they are too busy actually doing their work to worry about such things.
Pretty much in any field it's the same story. You have extremes at both ends. The vast majority of us are somewhere in the middle just trying to get the job done as best they can with whatever means works for them.
-Leuf
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