Thursday, January 18, 2018


Woodworking is typically a solitary pursuit. The introvert in my loves that part. But as you begin to connect to the wider community that is out there you are bound to find like minded people who become fast friends and strong mentors.

The time I get to spend around these individuals is like plugging my car battery into the electrical output of the Hoover Dam. A little shop weary. Running tight on ideas or answers. Generally uninspired. A little visit and some shop talk, or any talk really, and I'm reinvigorated. 

This past November I had a visit at my shop from Don Williams and his wonderful wife. We all chatted for a bit as I gave them the grand tour a Le Chateau Oldwolf. consisting mostly of my library and drawing studio and the workshop outside. Don has become a trusted voice in my world, I look forward to every correspondence with him and just treasure the opportunities to visit in person. 

 After catching up we headed over to visit another person I have infinite respect for. We dropped in on Mark Harrell at Bad Axe Toolworks so Don could see the impressive goings on. I really had a treat as I was able to step back and listen to these guys parse the details of Roubo and the historical saws represented in L’Art Du Menuisier. The thing I really took away from the exchange. The possibility of a revival of the full size frame saw and turning saw as staples in the workshop. 

I know I'm an hand tool, old world craft geek, but I'm more than a little proud of it. 

 Then in December and again just this past week I was able to go down for a couple workdays in the shop of Tom Latane. For me this is so much fun because A; Tom's shop is an amazing place to stand, much less work in. A wood fire in the forge and you get that real, I don't know, romanticised, whimsical feel that is inspiring and conducive to good work. and B: I usually leave behind the projects I'm neck deep in in the shop and choose something different, usually carving, to work on. Something I'd like to get done but there's no rush, something mostly for me.

This time I got to make a new friend in a Blacksmith named Michael Fasold who was teaching himself how to cut dovetail joints, with Tom and me helping (maybe hindering) the process. He's teaching a class on forging an early american thumb latch gate handle at the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center in Minneapolis. I wish I could make the trip to take it.

There are many others out there I have to find some time and place to meet with. Being around other like minded people really opens up the spigot on the creative flow. If you're not experiencing this you should try and remedy that. Take a class, join a club if you have one nearby, stand out on the highway with a sign in one hand and a jack plane in the other.

 Maybe we just need to get someone to oversee the creation of a Woodworkers Platonic Dating App. . .
Maybe not. I have too much current in my creative juices for my own good right now. :)

Ratione et Passionis

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Clothes Maketh The Man?

I have a new phenomenon in my life. It's called the gym. I've never really "worked out" in my entire life and always relied on being just a naturally strong farm boy, but it's part of the suggested post-op program and I'm actually enjoying it. Earlier this week as I was changing into my workout clothes and putting in my headphones (Rage Against The Machine radio) I experienced a connection with the preparation and what I was about to do.

I started to think about the other times in my life I have the same feeling. Most notably I've spent decades culturing the state of mind that accompanies wrapping my body in armor and strapping a sword to my hip. Whether or not there's any combat demonstration, just putting on the armor brings out a side of my personality that is more forceful, decisive and authoritative. I link it to wearing the armor through years combat competition and demonstrations where hesitation can equal loss and possibly injury to yourself or your opposition.

I have the same experience when I go to work at the hospital. In the OR I wear scrubs. The act of putting those on signals the upcoming expectations of the surgeons I work for. Furthermore when I don the sterile surgical gown and gloves this becomes an armor of it's own as I enter into what is kind of a different world with new rules of sterile conscience, boundaries, and mental compartmentalization come into play.

There are routines we all use to align our mind to the events about to take place before us, but also wearing a different costume can course correct a practiced state of mind. It's true that people will often behave differently a suit and tie than a ratty Metallica T-shirt. It seems superficial, but we are all superficial creatures at heart.

All this comes back to the thoughts I had as I headed into the weight room and started my new stretching routine. I don't have a costume for working in the shop. I don't really have a specific routine that signals "game on" to my mind and attitude. When my shop was a twenty minute drive from my bed I had that journey as prep time and I was very productive but the last few years of having my shop less than twenty yards from my bed has broken down the routine and the mindset. I'm more easily distracted and I have a large number of other things I can do (sometimes should do) easily at my fingertips.

To that end I'm going to try and make a change. I ordered a new shop apron, not a fancy custom one, a cheap POS that was probably sewn in a sweatshop. I've never liked wearing a shop apron much in the past, especially when they had pockets, I hated pockets in an apron. But many of my other clothing choices are evolving these days as I more from "if it actually fits it'll have to be good enough" to "do I want to wear this." My experience with a shop apron may evolve too. Maybe I'll love pockets now, maybe I'll like wearing the apron. This one will be easy enough to modify if I want and not feel bad about the bucks I've spent.

Once I get, if I get, acquainted with what I like or don't, I'll know what to shop for in a better made version.

What do you do to get yourself in the right state of mind for the shop?  I'm curious to hear other strategies.

Ratione et Passionis

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

SOLD: Hand Drawn Anarchist Tool Chest Poster


The cold temperatures have kept me from the shop recently, it's too much for the heaters to cope with. I had a sub panel installed in the shop over the summer and since have been greedily eyeing my own mini split system to help keep things livable.

I've also been drawing a ton of chairs in my sketchbook and though I have most of the tools I'd like or need, some nicer seat shaping items are in my sights. Travisher I'm looking at you.

To that end I have decided to sell some things starting with this poster size drawing taken from the picture on page 380 of Chris Schwarz's "The Anarchist Tool Chest." The book is one of my favorite all time works and was very influential on my growth as a woodworker, an artist, and in general, as a person and the inspiration picture is my favorite of the many iconic images Chris and Narayan Nayar managed to capture for the work.

If you follow Chris's writing at all you probably know how he feels about posters. Even though he gets goaded into producing some from time to time they are more "Passion Projects" than anything, thus your chances of seeing a poster sized rendition of this image probably starts and ends here. Chris is aware of the work and has given me full permission to sell this representation.

The drawing is done on 100 lb weight Bristol paper with a vellum finish using graphite pencil and ink. The paper's dimensions are 19"x 24" with the drawings measurements at 16 3/4" x 22 3/8" Not to over state but you are buying a drawing, not a reproduced art print. This is a one of a kind item. I will include domestic shipping in the US, but shipping and insurance costs will have to be covered by an international buyer.

The cost is $300 USD. The first person to send me an email at and tell me they want it wins. The transaction will be handled through Paypal invoice. If for some reason they should fall through it will go to the second email and so on.

It's tough to let go of some work, but if it gets me further along in the shop it will be worth it. Thanks for looking

Ratione et Passionis