Thursday, February 03, 2011

Turn them then cut them up

Today I've made door pulls for the Krenov inspired cabinet. James Krenov was well known for his hand crafted knobs and pulls which added distinction and interest to his designs. He regarded his work as "simple," though in actuality is was not. In the same way, Shaker cabinetry has been regarded as simple, though the skills required to attain that simplicity are beyond the scope of many modern craftsmen. In tribute to both Krenov and our Shaker heritage, my pulls for this cabinet begins with shaker styled pulls I turned on the lathe and then modified to better reflect Krenov's design.

You can see a bit of the process in the photo above. First turn the knobs to the same shape and dimensions (not an easy feat), then use the table saw to cut away portions of the turned shape, thus creating a hybrid, Krenovian Shaker. One more cut will be made to finish the shape.

John Grossbohlin came through with another interesting study of our failing schools. Study: Students need more paths to career success
"Education system needs to offer career-driven alternatives to a four-year college degree"

So how do we get there from here? An answer lies in Comenius, of all places. He says that it is cruel to ask students to do their work without offering a model of success to aim toward. We learn by moving from the concrete to the abstract. In most examinations of schooling the process is mired in abstraction, leaving the reader no clear path forward. So we end up wringing our hands and wondering "What to do, what to do?" A huge body of research tells us what we are doing wrong. We need models of how things can be done right.

My formula is simple. You can grasp it. With just a bit of will you can put it in force. It involves placing the hands at the center of learning in all schools and at all ages. Make, fix, create.


  1. Doug-

    Thanks- I'll be putting some of this to use on my father's lathe for my next project.

    Your virtual student,


  2. Anonymous5:25 AM

    Great idea for the knobs. And you're right about schools needing to offer more than one path. Even working in a community college where there are several paths, it never seemed like the students knew enough about the possibilities.


  3. Mario,
    As you know from having your own two sons, children want to differentiate themselves from each other, find ways in which they can find unique expression. Everyone getting the right answer or each spelling the same words the same way are not the unique expressions of individuality that children seek on their own. The "child as craftsman" metaphor is one that really works. For instance, I know you are making a Krenov inspired cabinet, as am I. We could start with nearly identical materials and work from the same plan, and yet you and I would come up with unique expressions due to myriad circumstances unique to each of us.

    When we launch children into a future unknown to us, why do we have to act like such know-it-alls?