Proverb: Give a woodworker a try square and it works (at least till it gets knocked off the bench). Teach a woodworker artisan geometry and he or she can build a try square, cathedral or a damn fine boat.
Why do dividers appear in countless old paintings and engravings? They show up in the hands of winged cherubs, scientists, stone masons, boat builders and artisans of every stripe. Yes, dividers were the tool that spanned almost every art and craft. But there is much more to it, something deeper, more profound and basic. Dividers were also a symbol of the entry into the world of artisan geometry. This world is a big place, as big as the universe, yet captured in a circle scribed with a pair of a dividers. This world of artisan geometry is just a collection of abstract discoveries, yet the truths of geometry are more true and solid than the Rocky Mountains.
Our ancestors understood that learning the truths of artisan geometry was fundamental to reaching our human potential. On a practical level, it allows us to imagine, design and build almost anything. They also understood that this world of artisan geometry can transform our thinking and train the mind to follow logic and truth wherever it takes us. For that reason it was a key part of the classical curriculum for centuries.
Jim Tolpin and I are on a quest to explore this artisan geometry and we’d like to invite you to join us. This isn’t about memorizing theorems. Instead it’s about exploring truths with a pair of dividers and a straight stick. The lone requirement is you must bring your curiosity.
In our own case, it’s taken us to a wide-open space filled with ideas and possibilities. It’s also given us deeper insight into every tool found in our woodworking tool kit. For each of these tools is the embodiment of a geometric truth. On one level you can know how to use a try square to mark off a line for a saw. On a much deeper level it’s possible to grasp the immutable truth underlying the square and then apply that knowledge across much more than a chunk of lumber.
Our soon-to-be-released book, “Truths to Tools,” is an introduction to artisan geometry. It just might change the way you see your tools and open your eyes to the timeless world of artisan geometry.