Last weekend I attended a fantastic Society of American Period Furniture Makers mid-year meeting and had two shocking thoughts.
- Until Elia Bizzari showed up, I was one of the youngest guys in the room. And I’m a codgery 51 years old.
- Of all the incredible things I learned during the weekend, virtually none of it – zero, zip, nada – was stuff you can find in online videos.
These two thoughts are related. The amazing generation of white-haired woodworkers at that event are just as likely to start a YouTube channel as Thomas Lie-Nielsen is to move his factory to China. It’s not that these woodworkers aren’t intelligent or skilled or have a deep desire to share what they know. They have all those things – as much as any YouTube creator I’ve met.
It’s just that digital media – creating it, maintaining it, promoting it – is not their bag.
It’s not my bag, either. I made the choice to make books. And I will spend the rest of my days fighting to preserve the knowledge of other people in books and on this blog. (If you think it should be preserved via digital video, I encourage you to start your own company to do this.)
But most of all, I encourage you to shut your laptop or iPad and experience real life woodworking. Join one of the fantastic organizations that are filled with people with vast experience and memories. Have a meal with them. Go to their seminars. Ask them questions. Put your hands on the tools and see the work being done before your eyes. Real life is different than video. It has a taste. A smell.
One might say it is the difference between online pornography and true love. But I don’t know anything about that.
As a practicing aesthetic anarchist, I don’t tend to join organizations. It’s not my bag. But there are three that I have long been a member of and adore:
Oh, I am also a member of the Black Keys fan club. And I am a former member of the Radio Shack Battery Club, but that is sadly defunct.
All three woodworking/tool organizations have low – piddling, really – membership fees. And you get so much more back for that money. Especially access to that deep, life-long knowledge that is hard to acquire and is – like it or not – best shared in person.
— Christopher Schwarz