Traditional Woodwork is a meaningless phrase. Traditional to when? To the carpenter of Bethlehem? Or the carpenters of the great mediaeval cathedrals, Chippendale or Sheraton? It so happens, by the timing of technology, that all work of centuries gone by was done without power, there wasn’t any. As amateurs we have no need to use powered machines. The opposition will say hand work is too slow. It is only slow for those who haven’t learned to use the tools. With practice and appropriate design, the time difference is not that great. Nowadays we seem to expect “instant” everything and machines seem to allow this. It’s the difference between ground coffee and instant, it is quicker but the end product doesn’t bear any comparison.
— John Brown, Issue 85 of Good Woodworking magazine
I have learned to try not to be too clever – nor too ambitious. “Half of something is better than all of nothing.” How many of us have unfinished projects that seemed like a good idea at the time? Better to have made, finished and used a simple bookcase in relatively cheap pine, than to have a half completed, oak, breakfront set, taking up room in the workshop. Ambition can be a terrible force. Most worthwhile accomplishments are a “brick on brick” operation. Lots of patient practice built into experience and eventually confidence.
— John Brown, Issue 81 of Good Woodworking magazine
Don’t get me wrong. You do need skills to work with machines. But you end up with engineering skills: precision engineering in wood. I have spoken to woodworkers about this and have been heartened by their defensive attitude. “I have a few machines,” means they have a lot. “But I seldom use them,” means they use them all the time.
— John Brown, Issue 30 of Good Woodworking magazine
The reason I make chairs is because I like to do it, therefore if I can do more of it I have more pleasure. I sell some chairs by word of mouth recommendation, by repeats or to friends or existing customers. In the last four or five years I have sold every chair I made. There are times when I could have sold more. Sometimes I don’t work as hard as I should. I still have no money, I’m always waiting for the next cheque, and I suspect I always will be, but I don’t worry. The difference between starvation and plenty is one chair.
— John Brown, Issue 28 of Good Woodworking magazine
DIY initials have entered our language. I remember being lost near Cardiff one day. I stopped to ask a local for directions. “Straight up, turn left at the Crown, than after a mile look on your left for a large Don’t Involve Yourself store – it’s just past there.”
— John Brown, Issue 27 of Good Woodworking magazine