There, I have that out of my system. Endurance and creativity will be my saviors. Beyond my marriage and family I have four passions in life: Historical Reenactment, Woodworking, Reading, and Writing. The first two require some physicality beyond the reading and study side of things, some physicality that is beyond me for several weeks yet. I decided I would take some time to work on the third item and catch up on my reading
This last week I have done nothing much but read, and read, and read a little more. By Thursday I had caught up with all the woodworking blogs in my reader and I've found and added several more. By Saturday morning I was wishing everyone out there would hurry up and put out more new content to help keep me content. By Saturday afternoon I started thinking about the fourth item on my list and decided it was time to start working on some writing.
I should explain that my writing extends beyond this blog, I have a hundred ideas for fiction and non fiction books alike scrawled in my journals. Having ideas is the fun part for me, getting the time wheedled out to accomplish more than an idea or an outline, not as easy. It's something I've accepted, things happen when they are ready sometimes, forcing them does no one any favors. At this point I have too many things I want to build to let myself become completely involved in another world in another universe.
But what about a book on woodworking, that would seem obvious right. I do have something to say, more than just the blurbs that bubble up on this blog, but it is not a coherent thing yet at this point. It's not a developed vision because I am still developing as a woodworker and I need time to build that vision before I share it further.
There is one idea I've had that I could start on now, that would get me somewhere. I had the though sometime last summer while visiting a Norwegian Heritage Center located nearby called Norskadalen. It's a great place with pioneer period houses collected on the grounds and filled with great folk furniture. The thing is I don't think many people pay much attention to the furniture itself but some of the stuff is great, diamonds in the rough.
|A small but unique side table in one of the log homes at Norkedalen|
At first I wanted to just go in and study the stuff maybe creating a book filled with measured drawings similar to the work Glen Huey and Bob Lang did with pieces from MESDA. But I don't want to just photograph and draw these pieces. I'm a sawdust maker, I want to build these pieces. Then I read a great interview Rob Campbell from over at The Joiner's Apprentice did with Bob Rozaieski from The Logan Cabinet Shoppe. In the interview Bob lamented that there is not a whole lot in print for the hand tool woodworking community. There's good books about the tools and some covering the techniques but there really isn't one, not one I've found anyhow. Where these is the presentation of a several fantastic pieces of furniture followed by a break down of how the writer goes about building it, using hand tools.
|A caved log chair (kubbestol) from inside the museum area.|
I thirst for this kind of book related to hand tool woodworking, something written for the stage past being a beginner, past the starting stages of how to flatten a board or cut a dovetail, something past the philosophy of why you my find enjoyment burning electrons only with your ipod, something more than saying "this is the way they used to do it, see what I discovered."
I want a book that is written for those of us who have been converted down the hand tool path, for those of us who have a decent base of knowledge to work from, for those of us who want to step from from the apprentice to the journeyman. There are good books out there a plenty, but nothing I've found feels both up to date and relevant to stepping to the next step. There's not a hand tool oriented book where the focus is on the furniture not the tools.
|A workbench with a huge end vice sitting one of the log cabin porches at Norkadalen. I think the ball and chain is somehow related to the Civil War Reenactment that was going on the weekend I took this picture.|
If I want to tell you to cut a dado with power most likely one of two operations will come to your mind. You would probably choose a router with a fence or a stacked dado head on a table saw. If I asked you to cut a dado using hand tools only then wow, there's an array of options. I personally like to use a stair saw followed by a chisel and then a router plane to uniform the bottom. Some might use a dado plane, some a backsaw and a chisel, heck you can even do it with a chisel alone if you want. The multitude of options available to me is what I like about using hand tools, but is is a hindrance to making a straightforward book about building furniture.
Am I just asking for too much from a tome? I certainly respect books of measured drawings and how they simply present the piece of furniture and the joinery and allow you to completely decide how you will execute it but they always feel like having just a salad for supper. When I'm done paging through them I'm still hungry and I want some meat.
Do you think the type of media I'm looking for is an impossible order to fill? Am I Prince Charming (ahem) desperately searching for that girl who's foot will fit this perfectly molded glass slipper I've formed in my mind. Is it too much to ask for? I hope not.
Ratione et Passionis