This saying was evidently born in a blacksmith’s shop. It has done service in every kind of shop, and has passed into one of those proverbs which are as often false as true. Indeed, this is the character of the greatest number of proverbs. True in a limited and special range, they are used as of universal application. Now, though a man may have “too many irons in the fire,” it is just as true that he may have not enough irons in the fire. It is foolish to take on more work than one can do well. It is wicked to work so excessively as to exhaust the strength, weaken digestion, impair sleep, and shatter the nervous system. When these results are produced by an inordinate use of the passions, they are called dissipations. But they are none the less dissipations when they spring from an inordinate addiction to business.
But it is not in this direction that men are said to have too many irons in the fire. When a man is carrying on so many separate enterprises that he must neglect some of them wholly, and can attend to none of them thoroughly, he is properly said to have too many irons in the fire. But the same phrase is applied to a man who turns his hands to many different kinds of trade. It is the serious belief of many that a man can not be a good workman in more than one art; that, if a workman means to be skillful, he must devote his life to a single trade, and in confirmation of such notions proverbs fly thick—”Jack of all trades and good at none,” being a specimen! (more…)
“Green Woodworking” by Drew Langsner is a passport to an enormous area of the craft that has been long-neglected in the literature. Using simple tools and materials from around your house, Drew shows you how to coax these materials into useful household objects that would be difficult or impossible to build with lumberyard wood.
The projects range from beautiful Cherokee and Cree containers made from bark and lashed with hickory, to a traditional hay rake and a firewood carrier.
But the projects are really only a small part of Drew’s book. He spends most of the time preparing you to work with the material, from felling a small tree to stripping the bark to making the basic tools. The core of the book is Drew’s explanation of the raw material. After you read his description of how wood works, I think you will look at the material in a whole new way.
Even though I have made many chairs and tables from green wood and willow, “Green Woodworking” filled in a lot of blanks in an easy-to-digest and encouraging style.
“Green Woodworking” has long been out of print, but now Drew has brought it back himself and sells it through his Country Workshops web site. You can order the book directly from Drew here for $35.
It’s an excellent book, well worth having in any woodworking library. And by purchasing it from Drew directly you will be supporting directly one of the pioneers of the green woodworking movement in the 20th century.
We’re starting to pack up for the Handworks event in Amana, Iowa, this weekend. If you are attending, here are some of the things we’re bringing to sell at the event (in addition to a selection of our books).
1. H.O. Studley T-shirts. The screen printing is complete (whew) and they look great. They are a light grey, 100-percent-cotton American Apparel shirt – made in the USA, of course. The front features a stylized image of the engraved nameplate that Studley attached to his tool chest. The back features the title of the forthcoming book from Don Williams.
We will bring sizes medium to XXL. Price: $20. We will offer these for sale in our online store after we return home from Handworks.
2. H.O. Studley Register Calipers. Inspired by the calipers in the Studley chest, these are machined from brass. Studley’s were steel with some sort of plating. We had 50 of these made for us. Price $45. These will be one to a customer and will be offered first-come, first-serve starting when the show opens on Friday.
We’ve had many readers urge us to make more and sell them in our store, but I’m afraid that is not going to happen. We have no desire to get into the tool-making business. This is a special one-time event. We hope that another toolmaker will produce this tool for sale to the general public.
We take Visa, MasterCard and cash.
Hope to see you there. Our livers are trembling in fear.