Fair Woodworking

June 2, 2013

Handtool Economics Part 3

Filed under: Fair Woodworking & Hand Tool Blog,Sharpening,Skill development — fairwoodworking @ 4:45 pm

“…I don’t know who is going to do all these things by hand… So, when you see somebody younger, cutting all these things by hand, you just wanna see — this thing’s not gonna die. (And, turning to The Schwarz:) If YOU guys keep doing what you’re doing, its NOT gonna die…”

Frank Klausz
at impromptu gathering
Woodworking in America 2010
Cincinnati, Ohio

From the Sandal Woods blog.

I suppose I could have also titled this as “Woodworking in the community part 3”, but I guess I’ve moved on from that.

I’m still on the fence regarding the future of woodworking. I’d like to hope that the future is bright, but success breeds complacency, and complacency breeds failure.

I guess my concern is that I think what Frank said was wrong.

Ya, that’s right Frank! I’m calling you out!

Not really Mr. Klausz, uh, Sir.

Please don’t banish me…

But consider this.

There is only one “The Schwarz”, but unless he also carries a sword and has the habit of stating, “there can be only one” after dueling, we can expect that one day (hopefully many years from now) to mourn the loss of another highly valued woodworking hero.

Just relying on Chris to keep woodworking alive (Yes I know that was not what Frank was saying) is the opposite of what I’m offering as handtool economics. We can only have a healthy economy if the entire woodworking community does their part.

I believe that our economy will collapse if it is missing any one of these two key elements.

1. Woodworkers willing to learn

2. Woodworkers willing to teach

My Grandfather was a hobby woodworker, but it did not get passed on to my Father, and I know for certain that one or both of these elements were to blame. As a result, my father couldn’t pass the hobby to me.

As a child, like most other children these days, the tradition of woodworking was dead to me.

This break in the chain makes me a first generation woodworker. I am untaught in what I know. The equivalence of a correspondence student at best. I’ve studied the books, and read everything ever written on the web about woodworking. I put a TV in the shop so I could follow along with woodworking videos, but I’ve never had a mentor to tell me, “don’t hold it like that, hold it like this”. Sure I’ve gotten on pretty well over the years, but a little one on one time with someone who already knew the skill would have gotten me here years ago.

Many of you are in the same boat. You went out and bought a good plane in hopes that the plane would show you what you should expect a plane to do. You marveled at what it could do thinking it was sharp right out of the box. You were stumped when it stopped performing when it went from not really sharp, to down right blunt.

You had nobody to show you how to sharpen, so you went to the woodworking forums for help. A number of well meaning people chimed in with a million different methods to make two surfaces intersect at one angle, sparking another heated argument on the one true way to sharpen.

Those of you that know what I’m talking about, I hope you understand how valuable your hard earned knowledge is to the new woodworker that is willing to learn.

The question is, are you willing to teach.

It’s not Chris’s job to teach the people in your town how to sharpen, or saw, or plane. It’s your job.

Well, assuming you don’t want this thing to die.

Next problem?

The skill of teaching does not come natural to all of us. I’ve got plenty to tell anyone who will listen, but it all sounds so much more eloquent in my head.

It’s also one thing to bang off the perfect saw cut in private, it’s a whole other thing to do it in front of expectant onlookers.

Well as far as I know, the only way to improve your public speaking, or one on one teaching is to do it. However if you can feel confident that you can demonstrate skills in public, it should be a little easier to do the speaking.

Here’s my idea.

Video record your work, and post it on your blog…

One take. You go with what you get.

Ya, that’s right.

You guys are in trouble!

I’m going to try to incorporate more video into the blog. I’m not expecting it to be great video, but I do hope that it will be beneficial to all of us.

1. This will up the pressure to test my skills. One take, do or die. Post the results…

2. Like I said before, I’ve never had anyone critique my form, or my work patterns. This gives me the chance to critique myself.

3. You the reader get to watch and decide if you like the way I do things, or if you like a different way to do it.

4. If nothing else, I have awesome taste in music, so every video will be an audio treat. Ha, ha, ha.


Here is the first one. I originally made it as a response to Chris’s post Shut up and Sharpen, and was what got me on this line of thought.


So did it really cut like a knife? Well, ya it was pretty sharp. Not atom splitting sharp, but still very usable.

I hope these upcoming videos are of value to you all. I’m just wrapping up my first full project with video, and it’s been a real learning experience.


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