In the Works: ‘Honest Labour’ by Charles H. Hayward


One of the great joys in creating “The Woodworker: The Charles H. Hayward Years” was reading Hayward’s “Chips from the Chisel” column in every issue during its 30-year run. The column was a remarkable insight to the way Hayward viewed the world, the craft, his house and his garden.

The column began before World War II as tinged with insecurity. During the war years, Hayward kept a stiff upper lip and encouraged woodworkers to find solace in woodworking. And after the war, Hayward’s columns dealt with a craft that was being changed by technology and the old ways were disappearing.

The group of us who worked on “The Woodworker” books selected some of these columns for the books, and those appear at the end of book four. But I didn’t want to overwhelm readers with philosophy, so we selected only a few columns for volume four.

Enter Kara Gebhart Uhl, our managing editor, who wasn’t involved with “The Woodworker” books until the end of the final two volumes. She was delighted by the “Chips from the Chisel” columns and asked if there were more she could read.

So John and I began to wonder: Could the columns be a book on their own?

Thanks to Kara we are going to find out. For the last few months, Kara has been assembling the best columns from each year, plus vintage images from the magazine. She’s also preparing a timeline of important world events for each year, which will help put the columns in perspective.

And we’re seeking the help of the Hayward family in completing a biography of Hayward, who was the most influential workshop writer of the 20th century (in my opinion).

The working title of the book is: “Honest Labour: The Craft According to Charles H. Hayward.” During the coming months, Kara will share excerpts from the book here on the blog to give you a taste of what’s to come. I think you’ll find them well-written, thoughtful and as applicable to the craft today as they were 65 years ago.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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11 Responses to In the Works: ‘Honest Labour’ by Charles H. Hayward

  1. laterthanuthink says:

    I’d sworn off buying any more of your books (at least for a while) but cripes if I wouldn’t snap this one up if it was dangled in front of me.


  2. Salko Safic says:

    The world has always been a messed up place, not just now nor 70 years ago but for thousands of years. When we work our craft be it for 2 hrs a day or 12 hrs we have this rare opportunity what many don’t to escape this world for that short period of time. This I personally find to be therapeutic, it helps me forget about the world and the rut it contains. But when those roller doors are shut at the end of the day and you step back into the world again and that radio or idiot box is turned on, the media with all their over dramatisation and hype quickly remind you the world is a rut and slowly drains you until you step back in your shop to recharge yourself once again.


  3. Jeff Hanna says:

    I think a full volume or perhaps inclusion in Hayward’s biography would be fantastic. I haven’t read the “chips from the chisel” column (haven’t gotten volume 4, but that’s going to change shortly), but I remember how inspired I was the first time I read Krenov’s “Cabinetmaker’s Notebook” and “Anarchists’ Tool Chest.”

    I’d also like to know if there is any plans to reprint Hayward’s books? They are rather short and some of them do not quite overlap with “The Hayward Years.” The book on hammer veneering I’ve found particularly valuable.


  4. nrhiller says:

    This sounds amazing! I’m looking forward to it.


  5. mrogen says:

    And to think we were just talking Hayward a couple of days ago. No way you were letting that slip out. It was in the vault!


  6. misterlinn says:

    There are some people in this century, whom, I hope, are keeping diaries. David Charlesworth, Rob Cosman, Peter Sellers, Chris Schwarz…


  7. Farmer Greg says:

    Nice. I was hoping something like this was in the works.


  8. Consider this my pre-order. You have my credit card # in the system.


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