As I was writing this, I looked for photos of my dad woodworking. I couldn’t find any. That was frustrating at first, but then I realized that it just underlines the story I’m about to tell. However I would like you to meet him, so here’s a recent photo of him eating breakfast.
My dad didn’t really teach me woodworking. He taught me something even better. Without ever putting it into words.
He’s been making things out of wood as long as I can remember. However, he never considered himself a woodworker. He makes things when he needs them, using tools and materials available. This usually means scrap construction lumber or some wonky log hauled out from the woods. His workbench is small and wobbly and tools are scarce and simple.
There’s no “statement” here.
No concept or a “minimalist woodworker project” behind it. On the contrary, his generation carries an unworded and inherited mentality toward making things instead of buying them. This mindset stems from previous generations – back to the days when woodworking wasn’t a pastime, but a necessary skill of survival.
I’m writing this because I’m afraid his generation might be the last one to naturally and effortlessly affiliate with this tradition. My generation barely knows how to sharpen a pencil. Let alone make or repair things out of wood.
My dad never talked much about woodworking. It was something he just did. And just like a Zen Koan, he taught me everything without teaching me anything. And so I’m writing this as a tribute to the uncomplicated, anti-fancy, somewhat crude, but honest woodworking that has always been there. Long before the hashtags and the woodworking blogs. Here’s a selection of things he’s made. I think they’re great. They keep me grounded and humble and help me keep my own woodworking clean and simple.