At parties put on by my wife’s co-workers, who are television journalists, people sometimes ask me what I do for a living (and sometimes they don’t – the black beard is off-putting). After I explain the woodworking and writing thing, they follow up with:
Like sports? Nope.
Play golf? Nope.
What church do you go to? None.
Belong to any clubs? Nah.
Politics? Please no.
I then salute them for trying. I honestly am the most boring person in social situations. To be fair I enjoy music and food at a deep level. But that never comes up when the Reds are in last place in the league (information that Lucy has supplied to me).
Here’s how twisted it gets. As a relief from the stress of making furniture for a living, I make furniture. I usually keep a chair or two in parts under my bench that I can pull out when I have a few minutes at the end of the day. Working out a crazy angle or joint gives me immense peace.
It’s a guilty pleasure. These pieces rarely make me any real money – I give them away or sell them for the cost of materials. But I honestly think they keep me out of therapy and off medication. And I can honestly see how our craft helps people who suffer from PTSD, depression, addiction or worse.
I know it sounds like I’m warming you up for a book like “Shopcraft as Soulcraft,” or some such. But scratch that idea. I don’t think those “why we make stuff” books are for people who actually make stuff. Those books are intended only to create more thinking about making – not actual making. (Apologies. I know people love those sorts of books, but they don’t do much for me.)
If you really have the urge to make stuff, nothing can stop you. And honestly, you don’t need a book (not even a Lost Art Press book) to get started. A knife and a stick of wood is impetus enough. The rest will follow. It always does.
OK, I need you to sod off now. I have a tricky angle to work out on this Irish chair tomorrow (after I do 100 other things to make some money). And I need to dream of sticks, holes and really weird drilling angles.
— Christopher Schwarz