Most students in woodworking classes fall into three categories:
1. Diligent but slow learners. This is the biggest category, and I include myself as a proud member. Nothing about the craft comes easy to these people. Yet, if they spend enough time in their shops building things and refuse to give up, they improve inch by inch.
2. Golfers. This is a small group, but they exist. Every so often I want to take one of these students aside and suggest they take up golf. Usually this is because of an unholy combination of a lack of dexterity, a lack of gumption and (most confusing) a lack of interest in the work itself. I wonder if these students have been assigned to the class on work-release from prison.
3. The naturals. I hate these people (no, not really). Every so often there is a woodworker who is so at ease with the work that everything comes quickly to them — even if it is their first time picking up a chisel. They cut perfect dovetails their first time with a saw. Their mortises and tenons fit without any tweaking. Their breath is rosy even after a dinner of garlic chicken.
Sam Cappo, one of my recent students at Kelly Mehler’s School of Woodworking, falls entirely into category 3. By day he works in the petroleum industry. But with every other waking hour he’s working on his house in New Orleans or building furniture in his tiny shop.
His dexterity with the tools and the work was impressive. And while you could chalk that up to previous carpentry experience, I think that would be selling him short. The kid is a natural. While everyone else was wondering how they were going to get their tool chests assembled in time, Sam was playing around with different dovetailing techniques that would make his work require fewer hand motions.
To my delight, Sam has started a blog called planedetails.com. It is in its beginning stages, but I hope he will persevere and show us his shop and more details of the historic house he’s rebuilding.
Check out his site, and leave a comment to show more cat photos. It will make Megan Fitzpatrick so happy (Sam and his girlfriend make and sell cool cat furniture).
— Christopher Schwarz