This Belongs to Everyone

At the beginning of every class I teach, I try to remember to make a little speech. It goes something like this:

You are welcome to take photos or videos of everything you learn here. And you can post these wherever you like. You can write in detail about the techniques you learn here and share them with others – I don’t even care if you credit me.

In fact, nothing would please me more than if you went home and ran this same class with some friends. You are welcome to use the plans and class materials I provided. This belongs to you now. In fact, this belongs to everyone.

Surprisingly, some people take me up on it. And today I received an email from one of my students, Klaus Skrudland of Norway (follow him on Instagram here). I’ll let Klaus tell the story.

I hope you and your family are doing well. I reckon you’re well into Lutefish preparations for Christmas! I’m home from work today with my youngest son who has a fever and a running nose, as well as a stitched cut in is forehead, which he got from being pushed down the stairs by his older sister. In other words, all is normal.

Anyway, yesterday was the last day of my Staked High Stool class. We’ve spent the last four Mondays, from 6 to 9 PM. I taught five people who had never before made a chair or a stool or anything besides flat work, and they all completed each their beautiful staked stool.

When I came back from Munich I managed to decipher my own scribblings and arranged them into a four page handwritten pamphlet with some sketches and measurements. I could’ve just handed them your text from the ADB expansion, but I wanted to add a personal touch to it. I was a bit nervous, but I figured it was good for me to teach the course as soon as possible to be sure that I remembered it all.

It all went pretty smooth. Each night, for good luck and spirit, we put up a vintage photo of Samantha Fox the wall over the benches. I’m sure that helped a lot. We ran into some issues here and there (a split leg, some wedges that broke even before entering the kerf, as well as some weird and unexpected leg angles), but we solved them together and the stools all came together just fine.

Perhaps the most rewarding outcome of this was that none of my friends had ever considered making a stool like this, and they LOVED it. It was really a bit moving for me to see how they engaged in this and how satisfied they were when they had a finished stool that they could actually sit on! I remember the feeling my self from your class earlier this year. It was kinda magic. It’s also very cool to see how newly acquired skills quickly manifest in people’s hands and eyes when they get to assist each other and explain the concepts to each other during the workshops. Myself included.

It’s Tuesday morning here. And thanks to Klaus and his email, I feel I can take off work for the rest of the week (I won’t – too many dovetails to chop). This stuff brings me more joy than a plate of grits and barbecue. So thanks to everyone who supports our work by buying furniture, books and taking classes. And an even greater thanks to those who pass the information on.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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45 Responses to This Belongs to Everyone

  1. Curtis Waskey says:

    Bravo!!!!!

  2. Robert Sfeir says:

    Amazing story, thanks for sharing.

  3. Clifford Logan says:

    Thanks for sharing this story, what a wonderful present for both you and Klaus. A perfect example of what it means to be a real person. Sharing what we know and our memories and our stories are all we really have in our short life. All that ‘other’ stuff people buy is just, ‘stuff’. It doesn’t really belong to you unless you have made it with your own hands.

    • Klaus N. Skrudland says:

      Clifford, thanks for your thoughtful comment. You put the essence of all this into words. When I wrote Chris earlier today, I wanted to say something about why this experience felt like something more than just having fun making chairs. There is a higher meaning to this and you nailed it.

  4. Finn Koefoed-Nielsen says:

    Seriously cool, well played Klaus. There’s a beer with your name on it next time you’re in London.
    Now if anyone wants to learn how to stare blankly at a spreadsheet, I’m giving a demonstration this afternoon.

    • Klaus N. Skrudland says:

      Thanks a lot, Finn! Very much looking forward to that beer. Much appreciated! I´ll be in London next October for Chris´s Welsh stich chair class, together with my friend Sigurd (the guy whacking that wedge in the first photo here).

  5. Jim Blank says:

    I teach a woodworking merit badge class to Boy Scouts a couple times a year. I am a finish
    carpenter by trade(40 plus years). They learn about wood, build a small jewelry box, turn
    a small baseball bat on the lathe, and learn about tools and safety. Once they walk out the
    door, I generally don’t know if they ever use those things they learned ever again.
    But I ran into the Dad of one of the boys from 10 years back recently, and asked about
    his son. He told me that Eric is working in a custom cabinet shop, inspired by that one
    day spent in my shop. The chill up my spine was one of the greatest ever! So Chris, I
    get your feeling of satisfaction completely.

    • Daniel says:

      Really cool story. Much of the time, you don’t really get to see the results of your work in others. Cool you were able to be in the right place, right time, to influence a young boy.

      I would be thrilled to pass down anything to my daughter, whether it was sailing, ham radio, woodworking, or camping, or anything else.

      Thanks for sharing your story.

      • Klaus N. Skrudland says:

        Thank you for calling me a young boy. Since I turned 40 some years ago, people stopped calling me that for some reason!

      • Klaus N. Skrudland says:

        Sorry, I just realized I missed out on something here. I didn’t see the beautiful story from Jim Blank above your comment. Which means my “funny reply” was totally misplaced.

  6. houtkrullen says:

    Chris, this is good stuff. I couldn’t make it to Germany this year due to work but this is exactly why people think you’re a cool guy and I’d love to take a class next year.

    The best way to improve your own skill as well as spread our craft is to learn and pass on.

  7. bearkatwood says:

    So how were the pyramids made exactly? Wouldn’t that info have been nice to have passed down, I have the same opinion with relaying info I have learned. There are some who think otherwise and guard their info tightly. I say, arm the next generation with as much knowledge about woodworking as we can and we might see some cool stuff showing up. Competition breeds innovation, way to go Christopher and Klaus.

    • peterstone85 says:

      I’m with you on this! Information and experiences doesn’t really get useful or valuable until you share it with someone else! That’s when we grow and get more experience! #sharetheknowledge

    • peterstone85 says:

      I’m with you on this! Information and experiences doesn’t really get useful or valuable until you share it with someone else! That’s when we grow and get more experience! #sharetheknowledge

    • Klaus N. Skrudland says:

      Haha.. good point about the pyramids! Those cheap Egyptian bastards….held the knowledge all for themselves! How are we going to build pyramids now!? When Chris taught me to make a staked stool it was a hugely rewarding experience for me. But then when I shared it with my friends it all reached a higher level of meaning, I think!

  8. jpassacantando says:

    Damn, this is the best lesson yet from Schwarz. Thank you.

  9. jayedcoins says:

    This rules. Thanks Klaus, thanks Chris.

    • Klaus N. Skrudland says:

      It feels weird to say “you’re welcome”, due to my own feeling of gratitude. But I really appreciate seeing how this ended up being a story that inspired many people here. It really shows that some things grow larger when they are shared.

  10. peterstone85 says:

    I’m with you on this! Information and experiences doesn’t really get useful or valuable until you share it with someone else! That’s when we grow and get more experience! #sharetheknowledge

  11. Martin Green says:

    Well done Klaus, Pass the knowledge on.

  12. Delightful! As a teacher, you know you’re doing something right when a student can teach what you taught him or her. Thanks so much for sharing this story.

  13. jameslesec says:

    A VERY nice post to start the morning.

  14. Jason Baker says:

    Lutefish? Surely he’s not really suggesting that Chris is preparing Lutefish for Christmas. Only us polar bears living in Minnesota know what that is.

  15. Jill says:

    Fabulous and inspirational!

  16. mmcc1973 says:

    I bought a nice first edition copy of this book at a book sale a few years ago. My dogs promptly destroyed it. Perhaps they knew something I didn’t…

  17. Sam says:

    Awesome!!

  18. Antoine Sévigny says:

    Really nice story! Thanks to both of you!

    • Klaus N. Skrudland says:

      I’m just grateful to see people’s responses here. It not only made my day, but probably my week, my month and the rest of this year and further on.

  19. Greg Gerstner says:

    Good on both you. Made my day.

  20. T-bone hags says:

    Gonna have to change the name to ‘Not Lost Art Press’

  21. Chuck says:

    Was Klaus the guy who did the Arnold thing?

  22. Quercus Robur says:

    For once, the word “awesome” can be used properly. Heartwarming, without any trace of cynicism.

  23. simon stucki says:

    very cool story!

  24. Sten Johansen says:

    Hi Klaus
    You did this at the HTM club right?

  25. Ian McNemar says:

    Awesome to hear this story. That’s the message I got from Anarchist’s Tool Chest and Design books: Spread this knowledge.

  26. GregM3268 says:

    This is an inspiration for everyone as to what is really important in life. Klaus and Chris have shown us that woodworking can serve as a vehicle to get us to a higher plane and that
    journey is both rewarding and exhilarating.

  27. karthika94 says:

    I love the way its conveyed… Just too beautiful

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