In the excerpt for “The Difference Makers” you’ll have access to the contents, preface, a long introduction filled with woodworking history and the chapter on Garrett Hack, which has, perhaps, one of the funniest stories you’ll read in the entire book. Simply go here.
In the excerpt for “Making & Mastering Wood Planes” you’ll have access to the contents, a foreword by James Krenov, an introduction and all of Chapter 5: Planing Techniques. Chapter 5 includes detailed information on how to prepare to plane, edge-joining techniques, flattening and truing surfaces, polishing surfaces, squaring end grain, profiling, and finishing hand-planed surfaces. For this one, go here.
One of the people who had the greatest impact on Malcolm was his grandfather, Rap Gardner. At an early age, Granddad would give him guidance on how to make items with wood. He still remembers making a birdhouse before he started grammar school. From those early days Malcolm always had an interest in woodworking. It wasn’t until after he got married that woodworking became a necessary hobby. In 1976, after scraping together enough money with his wife, Tere, to buy their first home, there was nothing left for furniture. He purchased a Craftsman table saw and converted a bedroom into a shop (there was no garage) and proceeded to make their furniture, some of which is in use today.
In 1993, Malcolm had a shop full of tools and a house full of furniture, so his desire to stay active in the shop turned to woodturning. For the first year, Malcolm turned in isolation. He knew nothing about woodturning clubs, the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) or the fact that there were schools scattered throughout America that offered workshops on turning methods. Turning bowls was a great place to start, with instant gratification, but after turning a few dozen bowls, he found life at the lathe became boring. He started gluing in a few pieces of wood to add some character and color, not really knowing that he was creating “segmented” turnings.
In 1994, Malcolm discovered there was to be an AAW woodturning symposium in Fort Collins, Col. Because he had the time and the resources he decided to attend and took along a few of his pieces to display in the open gallery. He was so new to turning that he had no idea who any of the presenters were but ended up in a workshop on deep vessel hollow forms taught by Clay Foster. This was his first exposure to professional turning – the first time that he witnessed another person turn wood. By the end of the weekend he befriended a gentleman by the name of Ray Allen, one of the world’s best-known segmenters. Ray was an inspiration to Malcolm and his first real turning mentor. Ray’s work as a segmented turner elevated the craft to an acceptable form of art turning, and it boosted segmented turnings to the collector level. Prior to Ray, segmented turning didn’t have a great reputation due to so many gluing failures and improper construction methods. However, Malcolm saw segmented turning as a truly unique art form that was in its infancy. He was hooked.
Malcolm then discovered an AAW turning chapter in Sacramento and religiously made the two-hour trip to meetings every month for years. He became driven to learn all he could about turning while creating and developing new processes in his segmented works. By 1997, he became a regular instructor at the annual AAW symposium and eventually became a board member and even the vice president. Although he didn’t become a full-time professional turner until after he retired from the ski industry in 2002, his work was represented at a gallery in San Francisco called the Stones Gallery. Within eight short years Malcolm had gone from a turning beginner to a turner extraordinaire.
During the last three decades Malcolm has developed many innovations such as the porthole feature ring, ribbon construction, dizzy bowls, checkered hollow forms, tubular construction and orderly tangles. His work ranges from tiny jewelry items to outdoor sculptural pieces that require a crane for installation. He, along with Bill Smith and Curt Theobald, are the founding fathers of the Segmented Woodturners, an AAW chapter with hundreds of members around the world that host a biennial symposium. He has written three books, self-produced countless educational videos and has a big following on YouTube.
However, his greatest contribution to the world of polychromatic turning is much more than inventing new ways to glue together pieces of wood. Malcolm is responsible for crossing the line between fine woodworking and fine turning. Through intuition, remarkable engineering and clever designs he has transformed the process of cutting, gluing and assembling wood in contorted ways. Then, with the skills of a virtuoso turner, he has proven that the two crafts, woodworking and woodturning, can collide and live in harmony.
We are excited to see this book for many reasons. As a book nerd, I can’t wait to see how well the photos reproduced on the heavy #100 Endurance silk paper we picked out for the job. The photos should be gorgeous. Plus, we’ve never printed a book in an 11” x 11” format.
Like all Lost Art Press books, this one has been an emotional and technical challenge for everyone. Marc spent years gathering the stories and writing about the 30 makers featured in this book. Marc and our editors spent almost as much time gathering, editing and getting permissions for the hundreds of photos in the book, many of them published for the first time. And our prepress people have wrestled with this book since April, trying to get it on press at a printing plant that has been disrupted by new ownership.
I’ve read the book several times already during the editing process, so I already know it was worth the effort. And I hope you do, too.
Our reputation for pickiness precedes us. Our prepress service’s quality control people rejected one of the book’s printing forms before it even made it to us for review. This is, in my experience, rare. Usually the prepress service tries to hustle the publisher into accepting whatever comes off the press.
So we’re a few days behind our planned release date. That’s the bad news. The good news is that quality is indeed infectious.*
— Christopher Schwarz
* “Quality is contagious” is John Economaki’s mantra. Hat tip to that.
We’re putting the finishing touches on “The Difference Makers,” an inspiring book by Marc Adams, founder and owner of the largest woodworking school in North America. In this 11″ x 11″ book (which will likely be 250 pages) Marc profiles 30 furniture makers, artists and toolmakers he’s worked with at his school. Each profile includes a biography of the person, Marc’s personal history with the person and lots of drool-worthy photos of each maker’s work.
The photo above is not drool-worthy. It’s a photo, taken at 1 a.m., of my desk. If I had known I was going to post that picture I would have taken it in daylight. I would have fixed the crooked blinds, removed those pens out of their packaging (the red pens I bought at the same time were long-ago broken into), tucked away the big gold earrings that had grown heavy on my head, tossed my son’s Nerf bullet off my desk and at least turned over the Post-It note pad with Girl Scout cookie orders scribbled on it, the red ink bleeding because I used the same pad as a second coaster a couple hours prior.
But then I looked at the piles of papers – Marc’s book with Nancy Hiller’s copy edits – and I fell in love with the photo. That pile of papers represents more than three years of Marc’s life – hours spent researching, interviewing, writing, gathering, organizing, editing. That pile of papers represents hundreds of photos sifted through and chosen, checked for size (and in a quarter of the cases higher-resolution images requested, some re-taken), saved as CMYK and .tiff, each one cropped, edited and clipped. That pile of papers represents Chris’s edits and my edits and hundreds of emails sent and received with fact checks. That pile of papers represents hours of design work by Linda Watts, who turned all of this work into a beautiful book, one well worth placing on a coffee table to be thumbed through, often. That messy desk photo is the truth behind all that work and I imagine, 20 years from now, I’ll be thankful to come across it and remember.
And unlike any of our other titles, each chapter in “The Difference Makers” represents the life work of each person profiled. That’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of weight. I’ve only met Marc in person a couple times, but I’ve known him for years. I imagine he’s someone who excels under pressure. I mean, he did this – he wrote this. Not many folk would attempt this. And he’s made it all seem so simple. The chapters are written as if you were having a conversation with Marc about the profiled person over coffee. And the part when he leans in a bit closer, to tell you a funny or surprising story about the maker? It’s in there. Over and over. It’s the insider’s view, a sneak peak into the life of – it’s brilliant.
Maybe that’s why, when clicking through hundreds of photos for this book, I found myself lingering on the makers’ shop photos. We didn’t include many of them (if any) in the book – it’s not what the book is about. But after reading accolade after accolade, and zooming in on all those jaw-dropping beautiful pieces of work, I found myself wanting to know the truth behind the work. And the few shop photos we received felt like paths to the hearts of these chapters.
I’ve always been drawn to workplace photography. We spend a huge percentage of our lives at work and so rarely is it documented. Same with hobbies. It’s why I loved writing the “Great Woodshops” column at Popular Woodworking Magazine. And it’s why I spent so long writing for my small city’s blog. My neighbors’ basements and garages held the most wonderful workplaces. Examples include a studio for painting, one for wood turning, another for music recording and still another for casting and painting pewter figurines. Hours of time are spent in these environments and even if you never make it into a book called “The Difference Makers” or you “just” end up written about in a small city blog, I believe those places should be documented and remembered. I recently came across the photo above while helping my mother-in-law go through things – it’s her father, John Owen, at work in the late 1930s or early 1940s at Indiana Bell. All I’ve ever seen are pictures of him with friends and family. Never before had I seen a picture of a space in which he spent so much time. I love it.
The same could be said for a parent in a kitchen – all those meals cooked for people they love. Or someone working in a well-tended garden or tinkering with an old car in a garage. A child doing homework. A teenager raking leaves. A young adult mopping a floor, trying to make ends meet. The work that we do, whether for pay, in order to survive or for pleasure, makes a difference to someone – maybe to just that person alone, maybe to a baby who will never remember, maybe to a small group trying to make a difference, maybe to hundreds of thousands of visitors to a museum. We’re all difference makers, to a degree. And I think the space we make those differences in should be documented and remembered.
Of course, this doesn’t mean tidying up, because that’s not truthful. That doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. If your shop is always immaculate, so be it. But let the coffee cup stay. And if you consider your shop to be an embarrassment, so be it. Leave it. And someday soon, after you finally finish that project on which you’ve worked so hard, or you cut that near-perfect dovetail, or the glue-up works out despite the worry, take a photo. Not a fake one, for Instagram. But a real one. For you. One that gets forgotten about until someone finds it, and lingers.
And know that in shops a lot like yours work comes out, daily. Maybe it’s a simple table a family gathers around every night or maybe it’s a piece of work so beautiful some editor somewhere, well past midnight, is lingering on an image of it when she should be editing.
Production update: All the makers have received their profiles for review, and I am making their edits now. (Fun fact: The personal stories from Marc in each chapter will be a surprise for each of them – we have kept them hidden until the book is released.) Marc will do his final review in the next two weeks, before MASW classes ramp up again in April. We don’t have a printer date yet, or a release date, but as soon as we do we’ll let you know.