Peter Follansbee’s brain switches off when someone begins a sentence with, “You should….” Mine does a similar thing when I am told, “You can’t….”
Part of the beauty of modern communication – you can get a message rapidly to the whole world – is also its flaw – soon everyone is repeating that same message. If you repeat something long enough, it will soon become a facsimile of truth. (If you want to test this theory, start reading a lot about wood finishing.)
In some ways I am grateful that I did not learn woodworking in the Internet age. I did a lot of things that are so incredibly stupid that I have burned the evidence, lest it end up on someone’s blog. I made up joints that probably shouldn’t exist. And I built furniture that by all rights should have exploded by now (it didn’t).
Oh, and I spent the first six years of my life as a newspaper reporter being fed outright lies everyday.
So I like to test declaratives (three-legged chairs are tippy), assumptions (you need special tools to build chairs), writ (you cannot bend kiln-dried wood) and common practice (drawboring is for timber-framing and old work). Most of the time I find that these ideas are based in some truth, but they have become twisted into holy law.
Woodworking doesn’t have a lot of laws. They are similar to the laws of physics, but not much more.
In other words, wood can be shaped by your mind and your hands, but not by words.
— Christopher Schwarz