Tuesday, November 05, 2013

your first thought...

There is a very good reason for beginning woodworkers to start out with the simplicity of hand tools. I've discussed this before. If you have two points, a straight line is formed. You can see this principle at work using a line tool on a drafting program, or by making two dots on a piece of paper and then using a pencil and ruler to connect the dots. But what direction is formed by those two points?

If you know the order in which the points are laid, you can see that a vector is formed and a sense of direction is implied. So what in the heck does math have to do with woodworking and the hands? ...EVERYTHING.

One thing that I notice when corresponding with woodworkers who have some question about a book or article is that those who seem to have been fully immersed in power tools tend to first seek solutions to their difficulties by imagining complex power tool techniques. They have a tendency to overlook the most  direct, simple and elegant solutions. They may be inclined to assume that some complex jig may be required to perform an operation when simply tracing around a part with a pen or pencil will suffice.

A friend calls this "parsimony".  And in his logic, being parsimonious is a good thing. But parsimony comes from having a broad range of experience, including hand tools, to offer simple rather than complex solutions. They say, "Keep it simple, stupid," and there is no better way of keeping things simple than through the use of direct action on wood, using hand tools. They also impart a greater understanding of the qualities inherent in the material, in this case, wood.

If your first thought when faced by a problem is to build some complicated device to fix it, you may be overlooking your most readily available resources.... your own hands... and you may over complicate matters to the point that you are stopped in your own tracks. 

I have begun reading Peter Korn's new book Why We Make Things, and Why It Matters... the Education of a Craftsman. My intention is to do a review for British Woodworking Magazine, but also to share a bit of it in this blog.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:45 AM

    Hi Doug,

    I have heard a little about this book and I am looking forward to reading it.