The way I practice joinery is based as closely as is practical on seventeenth-century methods from New England. Furniture made in England was executed in essentially the same manner, with variations here and there. I find this type of woodworking challenging, exciting and rewarding. Also the furniture has a tremendous appeal for me. It is strong, practical and, to my eye, attractive. The main timber used is oak, a wood I never grow tired learning about and using.
Tonight I’m not writing about what I do, or how I do it. I’m writing about the web, England, history and the future. The web has changed the life of everyone who uses it regularly, and one of the greatest benefits of it is the way it can connect like-minded people easily. I regularly read a few websites, regularly check a few others. One is www.unpluggedshop.com – many readers of this blog already know about that one. I was very grateful when Luke Townsley included my blog as one of those tracked there. Thanks Luke.
One of my favorite places is the English countryside. I have a terribly skewed view of it, having only made three trips there, all designed to see as much oak furniture as possible. Yet, I feel a strong connection there, mostly through my long-term study of English joinery, both here in New England and in old England as well.
And mainly because of the web, one of my favorite craftsmen I have never met is Robin Wood.
Robin’s blog I read regularly. You can see it here: http://greenwood-carving.blogspot.com/ For those of you who are new to his work, he is a renowned turner of bowls on a pole lathe, but also a lot more. Good writer, researcher and photographer. His book The Wooden Bowl is excellent. I have no intention of ever turning many bowls, I sometimes go years between bowls, but I’ve read his book twice. Now add passionate advocate for rescuing/saving/promoting “old” crafts to his resume. Robin and several others have been working hard at starting up an organization in the UK called “Heritage Crafts Association” – he just posted the details of it the other night. Although I am a long ways from the UK, I have an Anglo-historic bent, with the study of historic joinery, my family history, etc. So when you have a few minutes please take a look at what the HCA is attempting. These folks are working hard at doing good. http://www.heritagecrafts.org.uk/
In the museum setting, I meet a lot of people. More than 300,000 a year, for over 15 years now. They watch me work at furniture-making, and one thing I hear more & more is that people are separated from the making of things. Thus I think it becomes more important to save the ideas, skills and techniques involved in hand-made stuff. If you made it this far, thanks for paying attention to my rant. Here’s the link again, in case you missed it above