Sadly, it’s another day, and we still have exactly zero weird Yelp reviews for our classes.
I mentioned this today to the students in my chair class as we were working on our combs, and we started brainstorming what some negative Yelp reviews of my chair class might sound like. Here are a few.
Very limited vegan options for gluing.
“Red oak” offered up was more “brown” than what a reasonable person – which I am – would consider as “red.”
There are zero – zip, nada – Spanish tarts at “Los Tarts Press.”
Too noisy for intimate conversation. Lighting was too harsh. Not enough televisions. ONLY ONE BATHROOM!!!! Will not return.
Wanted to make a table, was told they had only chairs.
Wish I could give ZERO stars. Asked for walnut, was given something that was DEFINITELY not walnut.
Mallets need cushier handles. Visible sores after three uses.
Limited alcohol menu – denatured only.
No metric rulers – very unwelcoming environment for base-10 beings.
Workbenches were stained, pock-marked with holes and DEFINITELY not 38” high. Unsuitable work environment for fine woodworking. Will not return.
Floor littered with debris the entire time. Staff seemed unconcerned and ACTUALLY threw more garbage on the floor!!!! Don’t know how this place is still in business.
Not a castle (as promised). Instructor didn’t have British accent. Didn’t once use a router plane.
We welcome your negative reviews in the comments below.
With the unsettled economy and fears of inflation, consumer spending on stuff such as woodworking tools and books has been flat, and we’ve had one of the shortest holiday selling seasons since we launched Lost Art Press in 2007.
At the urging of our social media manager, we hired a freelance “brand consultant” to help us find areas of the business that we hadn’t yet monetized. After a few weeks of work he presented us with a report, and we thought we’d share some of his recommendations.
First and foremost, Lost Art Press isn’t taking enough advantage of my good name, Christopher Schwarz. After analyzing my Q Score vs. those of other woodworking celebrities, he recommended we make some adjustments to our product lineup and how we relate to our customers. Plus, appending my name to many of the things we make and write and say to each other in our videos will help expand our customer base into the subset of people who know my name but not necessarily Lost Art Press.
This, according to the report, could be handled in a fun way by taking advantage of the “sch” at the beginning of my surname.
So when we reprint the following books, we should alter their titles slightly:
“The Schtick Chair Book”
“The Anarchist’s Schtool Chest.” My response to that was, “Have you said that one out loud?”
“Schaker Inspirations.” To which I said, “But I didn’t write that book!” His response: “Oh Chris Becksvoort, Chris Schwarz – close enough.”
“Schlöjd in Wood.” Nope… just nope.
Some slight changes to names of the Crucible tools could also reinforce this brand knowledge of the “sch.”
Crucible Sch-lump Hammer
Change our “Super woobie” product to “Sch-oil in a Rag” that will “Make your tools Sch-iney.”
And our forthcoming glue heater should be named the “Schticky Pot.”
Finally, we needed to incorporate the “sch” into our craft language, both in the blog and our videos. So…
When I cut a piece of wood, I need to say it’s “Too Schwort” or “Too Schlong.”
Or when a board is the correct length – or a joint goes together well – it’s, “Schrite on!”
When I agree with something, I should say, “Yes, that’s Schit!”
When I prove a point, “You’ve Been Sch-ooled!”
Also, the report said I needed a “catchphrase” to end all my articles and videos. Like Tommy Mac’s “Who’s better than me?” or Glen Huey’s “Make something great!”
The report had a lot of good recommendations, but my favorite was: “Make your furniture a work of Sch-art.”
Because of the extreme financial pressures of the pandemic unprecedented demand from readers, we have decided to offer naming rights to several of the valuable components of our business. With one small payment, you can put your product or service front and center with dozens and dozens of Lost Art Press visitors every year.
Here are a few of the opportunities available.
The Lost Art Press Sanitary Room Until now, we have called our bathroom the “Klaus Skrudland Memorial Sh*$-a-teria.” But seeing as Klaus is not dead, we have decided to offer up naming rights to this essential visitor area in the Lost Art Press headquarters.
What you get: Your company’s name or logo hand-painted on the frosted glass window of our bathroom. Plus, whenever someone in the building says they have to “go to the bathroom,” we will instead say, “I have to go to the Paycor Room to Make a Convenient Paycheck Deduction” (just an example).
What your donation pays for: Hand soap that Megan is not allergic to. New batteries for Mr. Chirpy, our electronic parrot.
Lost Art Press Kitchen Every visitor compliments our tidy kitchen, and woodworking students spend their mornings and afternoons here with coffee and pastries. Currently we have our Lost Art Press logo painted on the floor. But if you are the winning bidder….
What you get: Your company’s name or logo hand-painted on the concrete floor. Plus, any time we offer coffee to visitors we will say, “Would you like a cup of Hot Synergy from our altafiber chamber?”
What your donation pays for: Lots of coffee. Chris’s toothpick collection.
The Electric Horse Garage Yes, you can name the entire Lost Art Press machine room.
What you get: Your company’s name or logo hand-painted on the shop door. Plus, any time we turn on a machine, we will say, “That’s the feeling of power you get from a Dr. Shoal’s Corn Scraper” (again, just an example).
What your donation pays for: New carbide inserts for our jointer. Safety Police jumpsuits.
The Shop Cat Bean eats a lot. And so we have decided to offer naming rights to this feline three-legged ambassador. Almost every visitor to our shop is greeted by a sniff from this friendly guy.
What you get: We will shave your logo into his substantial side meat. Also, people say the cat’s name hundreds of times a day. Imagine the brand burnishing that will occur every time we say “Stop licking your butt, Mr. Vlasic Kosher Dill Gherkins!” Or when people get their photo taken with the cat and use the hashtag #SummersEvePuss.
What your donation pays for: New keys to the cellar. A vegetable plate at Christmas.
When we think of Thomas Chippendale, let us never forget his greatest achievement: Cutting his dovetails tails-first. That, and trolling the Frenchies in his workshop for cutting the joint in the opposite manner.
And chairmaker Robert Manwearing, who shall be forever remembered for keeping his chisels sharp with Belgian coticule stones only. None of that low-rent Turkey-stone rubbish with a loogie for lube. (If it ain’t from the Ardennes, it’s crap.)
We all know that Batty Langley was perhaps the world’s biggest fiend for sloping gullets, especially when it came to backsaws he filed for cutting miters. Whilst some might remember his pamphlet “The City and Country Builder’s and Workman’s Treasury of Designs,” his true fame came when he switched to Swiss triangular files, changing the face of the craft forever.
George Hepplewhite worked secretly in metric, which is why the “Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide” remains one of the most sought-after pattern books of the late 18th century. The base 10 that is hidden in plain sight in that book will blow your mind, as it has blown the skulls of secret metricians for generations.
And let us never forget Robert and James Adam, who used only second-hand tools that were scrounged from carriage boot sales. They made their own tack rags with only the finest waxes – carnauba, bee and ear – which is why every student at North Bennet Street dresses up as one of the brothers at Halloween.
We will never forget our woodworking heros: William Morris used only a 1:7 dovetail slope to bring handcrafted furniture to the masses. Charles Rennie Mackintosh insisted on a 30° primary bevel and a 5° back bevel on his plane irons, which is why the Glasgow School endures. Gustav Stickley used only laminated steel chisels, which changed the course of furniture design between 1898 and World War I.
And – of course – Sam Maloof used only Titebond II, which spawned two generations of imitators to his curvaceous, Titebond II style.
If you are a diligent woodworker you have a sharpening station, all your edge tools are clean and sharp and your sharpening stones nice and flat. How about your mind? Sharp, or nice and flat? What about your truthiness? It turns out the lowly whetstone has a few lessons to sharpen your mind and test your honesty.
‘The Whetstone of Witte’
Robert Recorde, Welsh mathematician and physician, published a wonderful book on algebra (stay with me), “The Whetstone of Witte,” in 1557. He opened his book, which has the first known use of the equal (=) sign, with a poem.
He explains the whetstone in relation to tools: “Dulle thinges and harde it will so chaunge/And make them sharpe, to right good use.” Recorde continues and advises the student what can be gained by studying his book. “Here if you lift your wittes to whette/Muche sharpness thereby shall you gette.” Delightful and in a math book!
Now, a riddle for woodworkers from a late 18th-century children’s chapbook titled, “A New Riddle Book, Or, A Whetstone for Dull Wits.”
Couzen or cozen = to deceive.
The ‘Other’ Definition
On we go to the punitive and satirical side of whetstones. This is from the 1955 edition of “Dictionary of Early English” edited by Joseph T. Shipley.
The definition continues with a record of punishment for deceit and other examples of usage. The primary sources for these were relatively easy to find and so down the rabbit hole we go.
Punishment of the Pillory and Whetstone
In the Letter Books of the City of London from 1412 there is an account of the deceit of William Blakeney, a shuttlemaker. “Under the guise of sanctity” and also barefoot and with long hair he pretended to be a hermit and “under colour of such falsehood he had received many good things from divers persons.” As a skilled craftsman he was capable of supporting himself but for six years he “lived by such lies, falsities, and deceits, so invented by him, to the defrauding of the people.”
“It was adjudged that said William should be put upon the pillory for three market-days, there to remain for one hour each day, the reason for the same being there proclaimed; and he was to have, in the meantime, whetstone hung from his neck.”
Son of a…
In “The Busie Body: A Comedy” a play written in 1709 by Mrs. Susanna Centlivre, we have another use of whetstone. Sir Francis Gripe is guardian to Miranda and Marplot. (Gripe is also in love with Miranda.) Marplot is described as a silly fellow and very “Inquisitive to know every Body’s Business, generally spoils all he undertakes, yet without Design.” In one response to Sir Francis he declares :
Philosopher’s Stone vs. Whetstone
This next reference is a canto from “Hudibras” a satiric poem written by Samuel Butler that was published in several parts beginning in 1663.
“The rate of whetstones in the kingdom” is explained in an 1819 annotated copy of the poem as a proverbial expression, in which, “an excitement to lie was called a whetstone.” The annotation also gives direction to a 1572 Puritan Manifesto directed towards Queen Elizabeth in which the term “lying to a whetstone” is found.
The best whetstone reference, also from the annotations, is from a “smart repartee” between Sir Francis Bacon and Sir Kenelm Digby. In one corner we have Sir Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England, philosopher and father of scientific method (yay!). In the other corner Sir Kenelm Digby, a natural philosopher, alchemist, proponent of “powder of sympathy” and described by the scholar Henry Stubbe as “the very Pliny of our age for lying.”
The two men were before King James, “to whom Sir Kenelm Digby was relating, that he had seen the true philosopher’s stone in the possession of a hermit in Italy; and when the king was very curious to understand what sort of stone it was, and Sir Kenelm much puzzled in describing it; Sir Francis Bacon interposed, and said, perhaps it was a whetstone.”
If your mind is sharp, your heart true, and you only want to sharpen some tools, the blog has a plethora of posts on sharpening. You can find the one to which I am most partial here.