Whenever I teach a class, I insist on building the project with the students. No shortcuts. No asking assistants to do my chopping. No afterhours CNC.
I do this for several reasons.
1. I want to demonstrate that the techniques I use are genuine. It would be easy for me to say: Do this. And then nitpick the students as they try to do my bidding. Screw that. If I can’t build it in the time allowed, how can they?
2. It makes me a faster joiner. When I build the project alongside the students I have to push myself to build it to a high standard. I have to be much faster than they are. And I have to float around the room and assist them as I work. I have to be able to produce tight joints while totally distracted. I have to do it while I’m talking. Honestly, I should be paying the students for the training this gives me.
3. It shows the students that anyone can do this. One of the frequent criticisms of my work is that I am “just a journalist.” That I don’t have “traditional training.” And I am not a “professional woodworker.”
All that is true. I don’t deny it. And I don’t care.
If I can build this stuff without some paper certificate, then you can, too. You can build stuff to a much higher level than many professional woodworkers, many of whom have to rely on pocket screws and biscuits to make a living (and there is NOTHING wrong with that).
It is the amateur class that can afford to make furniture to a crazy high standard. So bring it. Whether you are “just a programmer,” “just a firefighter” or “just an engineer,” you can build stuff that will last “just 200 years.”
Here’s what stinks about teaching woodworking classes: You don’t have any time to take them yourself.
One of the classes at the top of my list is to take a carving class with Peter Follansbee, one of the authors of “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree.” Of all the carving traditions out there, I am most enamored with the simple geometry of the 17th-century stuff. And Peter is a riot.
When I was teaching up at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, I saw that Peter was teaching a weekend class there. I got excited, until I saw the date: Sept. 14-15. I’ll be on a plane to England.
Anyway, that doesn’t mean that you can’t go to the class. If you are at all interested in this topic, I can’t recommend anyone more highly. Details on the class here.
An inquest was held this Friday on the body of a French Artisan who committed suicide under the following circumstances: Mr. John Wilson stated that the deceased had lodged with him for twelve months, and was apparently independent when he took the apartments. Lately he seemed to be pressed for money, and a fortnight ago told a witness he was an artisan who had saved money for the purpose of going into business.
The previous Saturday he brought home two large planks of wood and a large double handled knife, such as is used by tanners for scraping the hair off skins, but no notice was taken of it, the witness thinking it was for model-making.
On Monday his suicide was discovered, his head having been cut off by a guillotine. The two planks had been used as uprights at the top of which the knife had been placed. Grooves had been cut in the inner side of the planks for the knife to run easily and two heavy stones were bound to the upper side of the knife to give it weight.
By means of the pulley he had drawn up the knife and let it fall on his throat, the head being cut clean off. Confirmatory evidence having been given, the jury returned a verdict of unsound mind.
The Illustrated Police News – London 1876
Normally I would not publish material like this, but since Chris insisted on posting the Death by Roubo article last March, it is safe to say that this bridge has already been crossed. I’m not sure what he planned to do with all those leftover pieces of French oak from the FORP… though I have no reason to suspect that he is building his own guillotine. Besides, it is far more likely that Chris will meet his maker by some other means.
The Illustrated Police News (1864-1938) published a weekly penny newspaper featuring sensationalist stories about murder and crime. The illustrations were reminiscent of the 18th century publication The Newgate Calendar, or The Malefactors’ Bloody Register, originally a monthly bulletin of executions, produced by the Keeper of Newgate Prison in London. These tabloids were a popular form of entertainment for the working poor.