Do Not Be Discouraged

word_to_apprenticesDo not let artisans discourage you from learning this or that trade because they have not made a success of it. They may tell you that a certain trade is overcrowded. Investigate a little and you will find that only the botch workman and chronic kickers are out of work. The cheerful, enthusiastic workman is idle only when misfortune overtakes the whole country.

We have here hundreds of mechanics who have no real heart in their work, and no sort of interest in the welfare of their employers. To be discharged is considered no disgrace, and to be in debt is no cause for worry. They work while the eye of a boss is upon them, and kill time when it is not. They growl at the workingman’s condition, but are solely responsible that they are not better off.

You will find them in one shop this week and in another the next, and their sad tales of being oppressed by bosses will make you shed tears—if you are green enough. It is a certain and undeniable fact that the poorest workman is the one who does the most complaining.
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The Hayward Project v. The Blair Witch Project

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John and I really should avoid alcohol when we discuss our business.

One of the first books we discussed publishing in 2007 was securing the rights to publish some of the fantastic writing of Charles H. Hayward, who was editor of The Woodworker magazine from 1936 to 1966. Lots of people have pirated his work (you know who you are shamey, shame, shame), but an authorized reprint hasn’t happened.

Could it be done? Thanks to the IPA we were drinking, we decided to try. John spent months negotiating the rights. I collected every copy of The Woodworker I could get, many of them bound into annual editions.

Then the real work began.

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I won’t bore you with the details of the last seven years, but last night I printed out the first 771 pages of Vol. 1, Tools and Techniques for copy editing. We still have 400 pages left to design – an arduous process because we are rebuilding the pages from the ground up. This isn’t a scan-and-jam, print-on-demand book.

This first volume will be 1,100 pages – the maximum our bindery can handle. The second volume will be 700 pages.

Each time we touch this work for editing or design, we are personally amazed. This first volume might be 1,100 pages at 8.5” x 11”, but the density of information makes it feel like 2,000 pages. Every illustration (there are thousands) and page is packed with woodworking, mainlined and right to the vein.

Our goal is to publish Vol. 1 in time for Christmas. I won’t have information on pricing or availability until late fall, so I’m going to ignore those questions from people who didn’t make it this far into the blog entry.

Vol. 2 will be next year. My next book will be 32 pages long with lots of doodle space.

— Christopher Schwarz

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The History of Wood, Part 55

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SAPFM’s Mid-year Conference Looks Crazy Good

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Though I can’t attend the mid-year conference of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers in Knoxville, Tenn., next month because of family obligations, I urge you to check it out. The program, which runs June 11-15, is pretty fantastic.

Check out the full listing of events here. Of course, the historical stuff is great, including the house tours and inspections of period pieces, I am most interested in the presenters who are discussing the nitty-gritty how-to.

At the top of the list: Al Breed. You might not find a better living, professional cabinetmaker today. His work is as good as I’ve seen. And he’s a great instructor. Al will show how he veneers curved surfaces and might have time to show some of his carving as well.

Don Williams (you know Don, right?) will be there to step back into the finishing realm after finishing up the exhibit of the H.O. Studley tool cabinet and workbench. Don’s true passion is on historical finishing methods. Just ask him. No, strike that. You don’t even need to ask. Just stand near him and it will all come out.

Don will show his methods for making new finishes look old. Expect cool chemistry stuff.

And then there’s Jeff Headley and Steve Hamilton, who will show how to construct a Shenandoah Valley Tall Case Clock. Even if you have no interest in clocks, do not miss a chance to see Jeff and Steve work. These guys are fantastic, smart and hilarious. I’ve seen them present about five times and could go another 100 times.

There’s tons of other stuff going on during the four-day weekend, so check out and get registration information here.

And if you aren’t a member (I am), please consider joining. It’s a great group of dedicated woodworkers.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Sterling Dovetailing Ruler. Get One

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Details on my other blog. It’s fantastic. Get one.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Personal Favorites | 4 Comments

Present Duties Well Performed

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Many boys in the machine shop lose their opportunities of becoming skilled mechanics through waiting for a better job, just as men die waiting for something to turn up. There is no job to begin to do good work on like the one in hand, and no mistake greater than supposing that the very best mechanical skill cannot be shown on what would be called a very ordinary piece of work.

Nothing is more common than to hear complaints from apprentices that they don’t get an opportunity to learn the trade at which they are working, but generally speaking no one gets the opportunity; he makes it. There is no conspiracy to keep any one out of the position he ought to fill, but he must get into that position by his own exertions.

If a boy demonstrates that he is capable of doing a simple job of work better than anyone else, he is morally certain to get tried on a better one, if there is a better one. If he fails to do the present job right because there isn’t scope enough for his ambition, he makes it appear that it would be unsafe to trust him with better work. There is no other sure road to advancement than through present duties well performed.

American Machinist – November 10, 1883

—Jeff Burks

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The Perils of Furniture Delivery

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A motor furniture delivery truck, belonging to R. J. Horner & Co., New York, caught fire as it was being driven out to Hastings-on-the-Hudson last Saturday morning. The driver was apprized of the fire by people looking and pointing at the truck, till he realized something must be wrong. He was driving at about 12 miles per hour at the time.

The entire body back of the driver’s seat, and the contents, consisting of about $1,100 worth of furniture, were consumed, but the chassis was practically uninjured and was driven back to New York under its own power.

It is supposed that the driver or the helper was smoking, and that the sparks from the cigar ignited the inflammable material with which the furniture was packed, but the driver denies this, and says he has no idea how the fire originated. The fact that the gasoline tank was intact and the chassis uninjured would seem to prove that the fire was in no way due to gasoline or anything about the mechanism of the truck.

The Horseless Age – August 25, 1909

—Jeff Burks

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