Someone wrote a blog at Lumberjocks.com about how non-woodworkers have
all sorts of false assumptions about woodworkers. I thought it was a
fun question, so I'm starting this thread here . I spend 10 times more
time on this post than I did on my original reply.
Here was my original reply: "For me a woodworker is an artist, a
designer, a craftsman, and an (old-school) engineer. The same could be
said of a metalworker, except a woodworker primarily works with wood.
Surely, every informed and thoughtful person has their own perspective."
It feels suffiently-grandiose to say I like woodworking because I
appreciate developing or further developing my skills as an artist, a
designer, a craftsman, and an (old-school) engineer. But something
essential is still missing: Maybe some sort of pride, maybe something
familial, maybe something else?
In one of my old books, I read recently that "long ago people
adored/respected (worshipped?) the trees because they were from the sun
and provided for fire". Yeah, maybe that's it--I like the solemness of
that remark! : )
I think it all depends on what kind of woodworking we do. My start in
woodworking came about as a child invading my father's workshop.
At the age of eighteen, my woodworking advanced to the next step as a
result of my being given full and completely free access to an empty
basement under a store for a period of six to seven years. That was my
first workshop and when I bought my first table saw. It was also at
that time that I did a stint of five to six years as a contractor.
But, that's where my professional life in woodworking ended because of
life changes. Since then, all my wood crafting has been as a hobbyist,
building what I needed or wanted for myself and a few friends.
I've often considered what might have happened if those life changes
hadn't occurred ~ I may have ended up doing a Leon or a Swingman type
of woodworking, but I'm sort of glad I didn't. I've found more than
once when I do something professionally, my enjoyment of it changes to
a type of obligation. Currently, I like the woodworking I do. It's
given me enjoyment throughout the years. I'd be disappointed if that
like changed into something else.
Same here. My wife wants me to consider this for a profession and get
out of IT. But its the place I get enjoyment from. And if I get rid of
that, then I have to find something else. And I wouldn't want to, I get
a lot of enjoyment from building things, and sometimes not.
The only way to capture the broad spectrum of people who think of themselves
as woodworkers is to say "a woodworker is anyone whom has altered wood in
Clearly there is a wide spectrum of skills and interests captured by that
statement. For example, I recently encountered a guy who went on and on
about the things he makes from wood. When I later saw photos of his stuff I
thought it was the crates that his stuff was moved in... "rustic" would be a
kind way of describing it. Of course my eye has been altered by my
experiences. Reading things like Fine Woodworking, Woodwork, and other
periodicals and books, and my affiliation with Northeastern Woodworkers
Association where I've come to meet and know myriad professional and
middling to high high end non-professionals, has given me a different eye...
In no way do I feel that I know everything but I can fix my mistakes!
IMHO a woodworker is a person that works with wood.
I have had the enormous pleasure and enjoyment of doing so for nigh on fifty
years. It's a healthy craft, exercising mind and body. The offcuts (and
cock-ups) help to warm the house in winter.
For me working with wood is bloody good therapy, helps to relieve worries.
Helps me to realise there is a real world, take a step back, and appreciate
it. Most of all, I love to work with wood. To think of a project, think it
out, design it, re-design it.....oh balls this would be better.... back to
the drawing board. Make it and make it happen. See an item in use and get
some little satisfaction from it.
About thirty five years ago I was asked to take down a perfectly healthy
English oak that stood 70ft tall. This because it was in the way of a
development and for no other reason. I did so and even whilst doing so I
thought that I should not be doing this. I retained all the timber, had it
sawn and used it for making stuff for the benefit of local hospitals,
hospices, charities etc. Still have a few bits left, and they are treasured.
Since then I have grown hardwood saplings from seed every year. These are
planted out on my on ground and in local amenity areas (parks, playgrounds,
hospitals etc) at no cost. I think I have planted about 3000 so far.
I'm not going to live long enough to see the benefits of these but my
children may and their children probably will.
Unless of course some idiot with a chainsaw comes along.
That is but one of the reasons why I love working with wood. It makes me
think outside the (wooden) box.
A fun show I saw the other day. On the program, they showed the appraiser
inspecting the merchandise, and telling how Finster was a preacher, and made
the furniture for fun, then quit preaching and did it for a living. He then
went on to do the artwork on several major recording artists album covers in
the 60's. Guess one does not have to make massive cabinets that sell for
$1350 when you can make $1350 worth of doll furniture with just the scraps.
I work with metal. Have welded since 1974. I have work at Hoover Dam that
will be there for 100 years or more. I have made several objects d' art
that I'm not sure where they are. Several commercial projects still stand
in Las Vegas of mine. I just went and inspected a property that had some
welding I did 22 years ago, and it looked mighty fine still.
I think there's no real definitive answer to what is a ****worker, whatever
**** is to you. It's just someone who likes to make things with their
hands, and let a little part of their brain show to the public.
Wood, metal, paintings, whatever, there's stuff I like, and stuff that I
wouldn't spend a dime on. And that has no relation to the real retail value
of the object or not.
To me, a lot of time, it's just about having fun, building stuff I can't
buy, and being able to stand back, and when people ask, I can say, "I built
Then there's the time I can get away to the containers, me and the dogs,
crank up the old tunes, and escape all the politics, SWMBO, and reality. If
only for a short while.
$.02 from the cheap seats
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