Thursday, April 18, 2024

Observe this

The New York Times published an article this morning referencing research by Kelly Lambert on the positive mental health effects of working with your hands.

If you try it, observe this. Take a stick and a knife and whittle. Note that each stroke of the knife offers evidence of effect. Cumulative observed effect provides evidence of your own power, even in such simple things, offsetting the sense of powerlessness that's associated with depression.

Before carving rocking chair backs, I lay out a simple pattern using a small template, then sketch in stems and leaves connecting. Quite simple. The finished carving will  require only 4 chisels.

Make, fix and create...

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Rocking chair backs

I'm in the process  of making rocking chair backs. I used templates to create the symmetrical design, and then after cutting to shape using the band saw, used an angle grinder to smooth and further shape. I'll design the carving next.

If you've been following progress in my shop you'll see the new mini woodworking bench finding a good use.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Student absenteeism

Letters from educational experts to the New York Times were written in response to a report about post pandemic absenteeism in schools.  

Of course part of the solution as one letter pointed out is that students need to be engaged in doing real things. That's a no brainer. And the reason kids are determined to use digital devices in schools, even when they're not allowed, is that connection to the internet provides a bit of escape from boredom. Student time ought to be valued more than to subject them to endless hours sitting at desks doing mind numbing stuff.

In my shop, I'm nearly ready to carve the backs for the toddler sized rocking chairs I'm making. Clamping them together took a great deal of pressure, concerning me that I don't have all the angles of the various parts just right. Fortunately I'm not going into production full time, but simply revisiting a project from the past.

In the photo, the assembled chair, not yet with back and slats is resting on the rockers, with the mortises for the legs to fit yet to be cut.

Saturday, April 13, 2024


I'm at the stage in making tiny rocking chairs where the parts are sanded and assembly can begin. With a variety of parts to wrangle,  it's best to go slow, making certain each fits in its proper place.

I've been waking up at night, and in addition to hearing barred owls calling to each other, I think about American education.

 After Kindergarten was introduced in the US, many educators gravitated toward the notion that the upper grades of elementary school should be modeled on the same ideas. That's definitely not the case now.

Before Friedrich Froebel became a teacher, he worked with Christian Samuel Weiss, a pioneer in the study of crystallography and its relationship to math. There were a couple important things in Froebel's philosophy and teaching method that came directly from those early years. On was that crystals grow in their  own unique manner from a pattern inherent in the material, just as a child might grow from a unique pattern embedded within. 

The other was the development of Froebel's gifts, a system of blocks and objects that were used to help the child understand the patterns inherent in the universe. I discuss this and more in my book, Making Classic Toys that Teach. 

The thing that makes me think most of Froebel was what he saw as a primary goal of education— to develop in each child a sense of interconnectedness, from that pattern embedded within stretching out to embrace the whole of life. That is a far cry from the general purpose of education today, but one we'd best keep in mind. As I  lay awake at night, thoughts circling in my own mind, there are greater things afoot. Ask the owl.

Friday, April 12, 2024

box projects

 I discovered that some of my box projects are available on For instance this laminated box is one of my favorites from when I was doing some writing for Woodcraft Magazine.

I hope you enjoy it.

Make, fix and create...