Thursday, January 3, 2013

It's A New Year

Happy New Year!  It is that time of year where we make our resolutions and with good intentions set forth to bring them to fruition.  My “I’m going to eat better/lose weight” resolution usually comes to a screeching halt in short order, so that one is out.  Well then, what should my resolutions be?  Based on my last seven weeks I think I know what they will be.  Allow me to elaborate.
In November I had my right shoulder surgically repaired after the sixth dislocation.  It was a wretched mess, much like Christopher Schwarz’s description of his first coping saw in his book The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.  Chris wrote that his first coping saw had a blade that rotated “sickeningly like a dislocated shoulder”.
This meant there would be no woodworking for quite some time so I decided to finally read some of my LAP books that had been collecting dust on the shelf.  I started with The Essential Woodworker by Robert Wearing, next was The Anarchist’s Tool Chest by Christopher Schwarz, and followed by The Joiner and Cabinet Maker.  As of this time I have not cracked open Mouldings In Practice by Matthew Bickford and it may be some time before I do.  You see, I can’t quit going back to The Anarchist’s Tool Chest (ATC).
This book struck many a chord with me.  ATC is a wonderful resource, listing the woodworking tools needed to make high quality furniture.  Mr. Schwarz breaks his list into two categories; the essential tools and the good-to-have tools.  He writes about the good the bad and the ugly of the different examples of these tools and the advantages of owning quality tools (first chord struck).  Next, you are given wonderful instruction on how to build a proper tool chest to house these essential tools.  Appendix B is a very useful list of resources for vintage tools.
However, the chord that rings loudest with me is echoed throughout these wonderful pages penned by Mr. Schwarz;  We have become a throw-away society and this vicious cycle of consumption and disposal could very well bring the end to the craft that I love so dearly.  He states “I think you should buy tools that are as durable as your furniture”.  “Buying poorly made tools only encourages manufacturers to make more crappy ones”.  After reading this, I would have jumped in the air and yelled HALLELUJAH and AMEN, if it weren’t for waking a sleeping grandchild!  In part, a few of my favorite lines in the book are these: “By filling your home with furniture that will last for generations, you are knee-capping the system that requires constant consumption.  I call that anarchy.”  If any of this strikes you in any way I highly suggest you read The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.

So this brings me to my 2013resolutions:

I resolve to build the absolute finest furniture I am capable of (my wife will be happy to hear that her furniture projects will finally be built).  I resolve to purchase quality tools from reputable American tool makers whenever possible (followed by Canadian and European makers).  I resolve to continue my education in the craft by reading more books and taking at least one class.  Most of all I resolve to freely pass on any and all knowledge I have through this blog and whatever means are at my disposal.

I invite you to join me in the aforementioned resolutions.  I believe that we, the individuals that have a great love for the craft, are the only people who can and will preserve the craft.  In part we can do this by supporting reputable manufacturers and independent tool makers, publishers, woodworking schools and independent instructors.  To a larger part build the highest quality furniture you are capable of for you and your family.  Lastly, if you have information and knowledge to pass on, do so.  Consider spending time in your shop with someone who shows an interest or maybe even write a blog.


  1. Ray, thanks for this post. I could not agree more with your sentiments on ATC. Chris Schwartz is a gift to the woodworking community. I also share your passion for riven furniture parts though chairs are a ways off for me. I think you have given me the needed incentive to put more of my work on my new blog.
    Work well and wear a smile

    1. Al thank you for giving the blog a look. I hope you will return often. I will be doing some online instruction (once I can get back into the shop) on some basics of chair building, so stay tuned. Heck if I can do this anyone can.