“In all its horrible eccentricity of non-descript Gothic, worse Chinese, and inane rococo, combined though they be with the most exquisite workmanship and occasionally a quaint gracefulness, Chippendale’s style is not in favour with those whose training enables them to discriminate between the true and false in design.”
— D. Adamson, “A Chat About Furniture,” Work magazine, March 23, 1889
Writing a woodworking book is perhaps the dumbest way to make a living. These stupid things take years to do correctly. Mistakes are easy to make and difficult to catch. You have to work quite hard to avoid sounding like a Samsung instruction booklet.
It is honestly the most difficult form of writing I’ve ever attempted. And the audience is tiny.
But some days you get a glimpse of something amazing that touches almost every civilized person who ever lived. It’s a bright string, to steal the phrase of Stephen King. And if you follow the string, no matter where it leads through a dark forest, you will end up in a clearing where you can see for miles, over hills and forests and to the ocean.
All that is usually launched by a single moment. My first book, “Workbenches…,” was set in motion by a single plate in “l’Art du menuisier” and a comment by Dave Raeside, one of my earliest students. “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” came to me while on a run in Maine when I wished for a book that didn’t exist when I was 11. “Campaign Furniture” came about by stumbling into a now-closed antique store in Charleston, S.C., with my dad.
“Furniture of Necessity” was set in motion by a single early image sent to me by Jeff Burks. (No, we don’t know where he is, but we miss him.) I can’t even bear to show you the image because I don’t want to spoil the shock of encountering a hidden truth.
I don’t want to build this up too much because it will seem obvious when you encounter it. People will claim they have been way ahead of me (or way behind) for a long time on this issue. That’s cool. I’m just the guy with the flashlight.
Today I legged up a sawbench, which is the first project in “Furniture of Necessity.” As I felt the sawbench’s pine top flex and give way to the oak legs when I hammered them in I knew I was on the downhill slide on this book.
I have the bright string in hand, now I just have to make sure I don’t let go during the next 12 months.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. For those of you who didn’t like Roorkee Chat No. 1, I can only say that you should not poke the bear.