The 5 Faces of Woodworking

The Tattooed Woodworker makes some interesting observations in his classification of woodworkers.

Where do I fit? I guess with a hint of regret, I’d have to fit into slot number 1. Almost my sum total of woodworking involves murdering electrons, with just a few scant visits to “The Dark Side” (or as Rob calls them less controvertially, “The Purists”).

I don’t deliberately avoid handtools, and in fact those that take pride-of-place in my workshop (or will when I build the Krenov-inspired cabinet when on the Ideal Tools course) are all handtools that “The Purists” would be very happy with – HNT Gordon planes, Chris Vesper’s marking knife (I really need some more of his tools I think) etc.

What is interesting for me, is how I evolved to this point where I can and do pretty much every single task in woodworking with some form of (typically) large machine, yet I seem to crave the purity of hand tools, without having the time to do anything about it.  Not that I regret the path chosen – I am a mechanical/materials engineer in practice and thought, if not by vocation.  I enjoy mastering machines, and all that comes with the ability to precisely process a material, be that wood or steel. (Aluminium doesn’t rate – horrible stuff that doesn’t have the decency to burn, or melt properly!)  But I do look at the hand tool purists with a sense of loss – there is a skill set there that I am sadly lacking, and I’m not sure what is blocking me from going there – time perhaps, a desire for precision, who knows.  A rough-cut dovetail doesn’t evoke the same reaction in me as it does for some, but when watching a real artisan produce a drawer with handtools that is so precise that it can hardly close properly because of the cushion of air behind it that becomes compressed keeps me enthrawled.

Have a think about it, particularly against Rob’s list – where do you choose to fit as a woodworker, and why, or how did you get to the point that you are?

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