Monday, August 21, 2017

box ends

I have been routing small mortises in the ends of boxes. The photo shows some complete and some with only two of the routed grooves cut.  Each end takes three steps.

The grooves fit tenoned parts and the floating panel bottom, that allows for expansion and contraction to take place for a hundred years or more without effecting the integrity of the box. My object is making a box that can last generations. The parts fitted carefully to each other give lasting strength.

On Friday night my wife and I went to the birthday party of a friend, and the hostess suggested that I would like to see their bathroom, and most particularly her jewelry box that had been given to her on her 16th birthday. It was one I had made, just like the ones I'm making this week, using parts just like these.

I did not tell my friend that her box was only one of thousands I've made. Hers is one that was given in love, that she has cared for and that she has kept selected things inside and so it has been made precious and unique. It has taken a life of its own beyond what I was able to impart.
"Things men have made with wakened hands, and put soft life into are awake through years with transferred touch, and go on glowing for long years.

And for this reason, some old things are lovely
warm still with the life of forgotten men who made them."— D. H. Lawrence
The craftsman is but a spark. Craftsmanship lingers in an object only because others care for what they have found in it.

Happy eclipse day, 2017. It will grow dark here in Arkansas as the moon moves in front of the sun. Here we are in the 92 percent zone and many of my friends are on their way north to experience totality. It will pass.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others learn likewise.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

milling parts.

I am in the process of milling parts for making small boxes as is usual for me this time of year. I have a four position router table that contains 4 routers, each set up for a different operation.

One router forms the tenons on the ends of pieces of wood and also forms the tongues around the edges of parts that will become the bottom panels.

At this point, all the tenoning and panel forming operations are complete, so I will switch to another position on the router table where another router is set up and ready to rout tiny mortises where the tenons on the front and back and the ends of the bottom panels will fit.

When the mortises are routed, I can turn my attention to the inlaid lids.

I have published this technique in my books, and yet, reading with accompanying photographs is often insufficient  for those wanting to learn the how to make boxes of this type. People want to see it, and ask questions about it and test it in their own hands. For me, at this point, it is all quite simple. The routers are already set up and my hands know the process.

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning likewise.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

a reader asked

A reader asked where to find plans for my minimalist router table that has been featured in my books and articles over the years. It can be downloaded from the Fine Woodworking website here:

While many woodworkers work days to make the perfect router table, mine, which has been in use for over 30 years was made in minutes, allowing me to get right to work.

As with many aspects of my work, I'd not set out to make something different. I was simply trying to do something with what I had at hand. Yesterday I met with the elementary school teachers at Clear Spring School to begin planning our woodshop activities with first through sixth grades. Today I will go shopping for walnut.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others learn likewise.

Friday, August 18, 2017

my work returning to Crystal Bridges

Yesterday I delivered work to the Crystal Bridges Museum's Gift store, making it once again available for sale to museum guests. I'm pleased when my friends tell me they are pleased to find it there. I also met with staff at the Clear Spring School to begin planning for the coming year and continued preparing stock for making small boxes.

Sawstop, the safer saw manufacturer is once again in the news ( ) as the Consumer Products Safety Administration, once again considers a technology that makes table saws much safer and has a proven track record of protecting thousands of hands from tragic injury each year.

The technology is not perfect. I had my own sawstop saw triggered this last week, while cutting into the end of a basswood board, and with my hands safely positioned well back from the blade. I sent the cartridge and scrap of wood that the blade just barely touched to them for analysis, as the situation was clearly not the kind of cut the Sawstop saw was intended to prevent. My good ripping blade was destroyed. But still, the idea of preventing thousands of injuries and returning woodworking to schools, makes the occasional misfire well worth that small risk.

I would rather lose an occasional blade and cartridge due to the thing stopping at the wrong time, than have others face serious injuries to their hands.

In Connecticut, one of my students asked me whether I thought he should buy a sawstop saw. I suggested yes, but that he should also ask his wife. Sometime wives worry about their husbands spending money on their hobbies. But that seems to not be the case when it comes to safety. He learned that his wife fully supports the purchase of a Sawstop saw. The photo of the toy truck above is of the type he makes and assembles with a pre-kindergarten class. His new Sawstop saw will keep him productive even into his advanced years, even when he may not have so many wits about him.

The point is not that conventional saws cannot be operated safely, but that if all saws can be made safer, they should be. The point about safety is that not only the operator of a saw is affected by injury. The whole of society is harmed, including the wives and families of those injured.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others learn likewise.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

returning to school

Yesterday we began staff meetings at the Clear Spring School and that gives me the opportunity to begin planning for the coming school year. Today we will go over Teacher Effectiveness Training as we do every year, and discuss conflict resolution, which is part of the educational agenda at Clear Spring School. It should play a larger part in American education at large. If it did, and students were taught to show love and respect for each other, and to resolve their differences with each other we would not be in the situation we are in.

We have a president who is utterly devoid of human compassion, and a ruling party that's cowardly when it comes to standing up for what's right. Those are not the qualities that one would learn at the Clear Spring School where children learn to work through their interpersonal problems.

In the meantime, I've students to teach and boxes to make.

The illustration is one I composed using some elements available in the sketchup parts warehouse. It shows a simple set-up for forming finger joints on the table saw. It uses a table saw miter gauge to carry the box sides through successive cuts.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others learn likewise.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

catching up on production.

Yesterday I got an order from Appalachian Spring Galleries in Washington, DC and on Thursday I have a meeting with the regional craft buyer at Crystal Bridges Museum.

Those things set me in motion, checking inventory and beginning to mill stock for a fresh production run of boxes. My box making has been put on the back burner all summer as I've been teaching, working on the ESSA wood studios, and writing articles for Woodcraft and Fine Woodworking.

The first steps in making boxes is to mill stock to thickness and width. The steps are as follows:
  • Rip rough lumber to about 1/4 in. over desired width.
  • Resaw the rough width stock into thinner strips, roughly 3/16 in. over final dimension.
  • Plane resawn stock to finished thickness.
  • Square one edge of planed stock.
  • Rip stock to intended width.
Meetings at Clear Spring School for the beginning of the school year are also underway.

This afternoon I'll pick up a fresh supply of walnut lumber to make into boxes.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others learn likewise.

Monday, August 14, 2017

back to school, back to work.

Today I will go to Clear Spring School to clean shop and begin preparing for the school year. I am finished with my summer adult classes, except for occasional weekend visits to woodworking clubs during the coming school year.

My students are often interested in the barbed hinges I use on some of my boxes. These hinges are primarily intended for large production runs, and it takes some time and specialized equipment to set up for their use. While in Connecticut, I made the jig shown in the photo to cut grooves for their installation using the drill press.  The grooves must be cut using a tiny saw blade with a kerf of only 3/64 in. Someone with a milling machine can use these hinges, but they are not well suited to the every day wood shop.

This is the second one of these jigs that I've made with the first being made and tested at home. In any case, I've proven that they can be successfully used in a home shop if a craftsman is willing to make an investment in their use.

In addition to preparing for school, I am hoping to resume normal production in my wood shop, and I'm preparing for a visit by an editor from Fine Woodworking in September.

In the light of current events, I cannot stress enough, the moral dimension of craftsmanship. To make something lovely and useful in service to  community confers nobility, humility and humanity upon the wayward spirit. Those who create beauty know power and control without having to slap others to find it.

Make, fix, create, and offer to others, encouragement to learn likewise.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

building to teach

I am back from teaching in Connecticut and found a book from Joe Youcha waiting for me. Joe is the founder of the Building to Teach program through Alexandria Seaport Museum in Virginia that assists schools throughout the US in building boats to teach math.

Joe's new book, simply titled Framing Square Math addresses the common carpenter's square and just as one might discover and be surprised by new things google might do for you, the common framing or carpenter's square is a tool that demands a great deal of investigation.

Joe starts the book with an examination of the tool, leads the reader through exercises in its use, explores how it can perform calculations that one might not think possible, and then teaches you how to make your own. It is amazing that a tool as simple as this, can offer such power to the expansion of mind. Einstein had said that his pencil and he were smarter than he was, and so one must wonder about the lovely Framing Square.

Yesterday as I was waiting for my flight to Atlanta, a young couple was there with their toddler. The child had tiny headphones, on, mom's iPhone in hand, and the mother was trying to put almonds into her mouth to be consumed. My temptation (strongly resisted) was to say something about the destructive effects of technology. That children needed to be engaged in the real world, and that the introduction and sustained use of digital technologies can disrupt more natural and necessary development. Fortunately, the headphones kept falling off, and the mother's best efforts at keeping the child engaged and distracted by digital technologies were disrupted by gravity itself. And certainly, our concerns at this point should be grave.

The following is from Matt Crawford's book on the world outside your head, discussing the quote from me with which he opened his first book.
As Stowe's use of the word "undeserving" suggests, at the heart of education is the fact that we are evaluative beings. Our rational capacities are intimately tied into our emotional equipment of admiration and contempt, those evaluative responses that are inadmissible under the flattening. A young boy, let us say, admires the skill and courage of racecar drivers. This kind of human greatness may not be available to him realistically, but is perfectly intelligible to him. If he learns trigonometry, he can put himself in the service of it, for example by becoming a fabricator in the world of motor sports. He can at least imagine such a future for himself, and this is what keeps him going to school. At some point, the pleasures of pure mathematics may begin to make themselves felt and give his life a different shape. Or not. He may instead become enthralled with the beauty of a well-laid weld bead on a perfectly coped tubing joint‐like a stack of shiny dimes that has fallen over and draped itself around a curve‐and devote himself to this art.
The point here is that tools, in the concrete, even as simple as a carpenter's framing square, have a way of bringing education to hand, and where the hands are engaged, real learning and the engagement of hearts follow.

This is not rocket science, but it might lead to some. It is not what they discuss in the educational policy think tanks that are disrupting the natural learning lives of children throughout the US, and the world. But it is true. And it is real. When the hands and minds of children are put in real service to beauty, utility and community, excellence of learning follows.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

headed home...

My students at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking made a variety of boxes during the week.

Scott Bultman sent a link to a new Kindergarten trailer with a wood shop teacher at the 52 second mark.

I am headed home to Arkansas with an early morning flight.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.

Friday, August 11, 2017

day 5

I am wrapping up a five day class at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. One of my students mentioned his grandchild's preschool warning parents that their children needed to be prepared for school by being given experience in the basics like scissors, drawing on real paper, play with real blocks and the other exercises common to the development of humanity. It seems that children playing with iPhones is preventing necessary developmental play in the real world, putting the future of our entire society at risk.

My friend Mario, right on cue, sent the following: Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

Common sense may not be as common as it once was. I call urgently for all hands on deck. We may not be able to turn the whole tide of humanity, but we can make sure that the chidlren in our own lives have the creative and developmental experiences they must have.

In the meantime, my students have been doing very good work.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others discover the joy of learning likewise.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Day 4 at CVSofW

I am ready for day four of my box making class. All my students have a number of boxes in the works. One of my students asked, "Tomorrow, may I start another?" "Of course," I replied. Today I will complete patterned inlay I started making yesterday. Some students are making mitered finger joint boxes. We are all learning the way we learn best, by doing, and there is absolutely no difference between the way adults learn and children learn.

We play and can be trusted to learn the things we want most to know, as learning is one of the most fundamental exercises of human nature, when the confidence of learning is not squelched by trivialized schooling. We should set up schools so children learn likewise.

Music, the arts, laboratory science and crafts through which children can make things of benefit to their families and community.

Make, fix, create, and assist others to learn through play.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

A friend sent this about testing

We have a system of education based on standardized testing but standardized testing is a very poor way to measure what children know. This link comes from a retired science teacher friend and fellow box maker:
Whether you’re trying to measure proficiency or growth, standardized tests are not the answer.
I am ready for my third day of teaching at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking and am beginning to spell Connecticut without spell check. It's a state whose spelling gets a bit of getting used to. But just as I'm spelling Connecticut with greater certainty, human beings are constantly engaged in a process of applying certainty to uncertain things.

 My students have their first boxes hinged. Mistakes have been made. Lessons have been learned and we've been enjoying being together in a creative process. That should serve as a model for American education.

The following is from Charles H. Hamm, Mind and Hand, 1886:
It is the most astounding fact of history that education has been confined to abstractions. The schools have taught history, mathematics, language and literature and the sciences to the utter exclusion of the arts, not withstanding the obvious fact that it is through the arts alone that other branches of learning touch human life... In a word, public education stops at the exact point where it should begin to apply the theories it has imparted... At this point the school of mental and manual training combined--the Ideal School--begins; not only books but tools are put in to the hands of the pupil, with this injunction of Comenius; "Let those things that have to be done be learned by doing them."
Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Connecticut Valley box making day 1

Yesterday at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking we cut and assembled boxes that are gluing over night. In the meantime, schools have been cutting recess time to allow for more preparation time for standardized tests. But given the pressures of modern schooling it is recess that children need most. This article from the New York Times helps to explain:

One of the great ironies is that in Finland where students have more recess time than anywhere else in the world, students excel over their American peers.

The amount of recess time is not the only way Finnish Schools differ from those in the US. In Finland, students begin reading in school at age 8, thus beating American readers by a significant margin in 30% less time. They take a relaxed tone, allowing for the variations in the developmental process of the individual child. This does not mean that they are relaxed about learning, but that they are smarter about it.

Otto Salomon distinguished between two purposes of education. One was economic, as the child was prepared to take on some specific skills with economic value. The other benefit was formative, as the child was to become a fully actualized human being through the process of schooling. If we were to dwell just a bit more on the latter than on the former, we would design schooling that would focus more on child development and less on administrative concerns. Students would be more deeply involved in wood shop, music, the arts, and  recess.

Make, fix, and create...

Monday, August 07, 2017

In Connecticut for day one

It is fascinating how children all want to be alike, and yet stand apart. They want to fit in,  but they also choose, if given a chance, to stand apart from each other in ways that demonstrate strength, intelligence and expertise. This happens in individual families as children choose their individual interests. One may choose sports, another science, and yet another, the arts, music or the culinary arts. And then when it comes to the design of American education, all animals must jump through and be measured by the same hoops.

When the National Endowment for the Arts attempted to come up with a means to measure their effectiveness, joy was suggested as a means of measuring student engagement and learning. If expressed joy was to become the primary means of assessing educational progress(both individual and collective) in the US, we would have schools much different from what we have now. Let's aim in that direction.

Today I am in Connecticut for day one of a week-long class at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. For adults and children alike, learning is a joy, or can be if given a chance.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others learn to love learning likewise.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

admiration or contempt.

This video: shows how cut nails are made in an old machine kept running for generations. 

Nails were originally forged one at a time by blacksmiths and were precious. Old houses would be burned down just to reclaim them for reuse. Cut nails made by machines like this were the predecessors to the wire nails of today.

For years, Fine Woodworking and adherents to its philosophy have had the idea that ideal furniture contained neither nails nor screws. And yes, wonderful works can be done with fine cut joints alone. An article in Fine Woodworking online suggests that perhaps nails are not so bad after all. As some of the more difficult to master woodworking skills are neglected perhaps nails will get things going again.

I am packed and ready for my trip to Connecticut where I'll make boxes. As I return from making boxes, my attention will return to  the Clear the Clear Spring School and teaching wood shop grades 1-12. Children are actually emotional as well as cognitive beings they may be lured into learning by the things they want to accomplish. They can be forced to learn under great pressure, those things that they care nothing about. How about developing education that earns their admiration rather than their contempt?

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

bridges and nuts...

Photo by Danielle Atkins
I have been continuing to review my new book as a .pdf file, and am pleased with the photos taken to illustrate the beginnings of the chapters. The photo at left is for the chapter on making bridges and nuts, which are the parts that define string length and support the strings on their journey over the frets and down the neck. One of the things I found in my most recent read through was two paragraphs of "overflow text." That means there were more words than could be fit into the allocated space.

The options are two. Cut the text and leave the reader hanging, or find another place for it to fit. I found a nice empty place  in the chapter where a short sidebar will fit  right and where the content will be most useful to the reader.

Part of the challenge in any book is to make sure that necessary content is retained throughout the editorial process, and yet fitted into the design and page layout of the book. No book can provide everyone with all they need. How-to books come to life when you test what has been written in your own hands. This is no different than any other book you might read. Things have greater meaning when they are touched by your own experience.

Yesterday I made a new jig for cutting slots in boxes for barbed hinges to fit. The new jig fits on the drill press and you can see photos and a drawing in my blog or by going to my instagram account. Go to and search for douglasstowe.

Today I finalize my packing for my box making trip to Connecticut.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others learn to love learning likewise.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Sagamore of the Wabash

a sassafras and maple table by Brent at ESSA
This week Marc Adams at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking was presented an award from the Indiana governor naming him a "Sagamore of the Wabash." The Wabash is a river that runs through the state, and Sagamore is a native American term meaning great chief.

A few years back when I was named an Arkansas Living Treasure, Marc, impressed by my award, began wondering if there was a similar award in his state. They have no awards specific to crafts and crafts education, but they have an even higher award that recognizes important cultural and economic contributions to their state. Marc submitted the name of an amazing Indiana craftsman to receive that award, and when that award had been granted,  my great friend Jerry Forshee, submitted Marc's name and accomplishments for consideration for the same award.

I was honored to be asked to write a letter to be read as Marc was to be surprised with having been named a "Sagamore of the Wabash." That letter is as follows:
To whom it may concern,

When we are engaged in making something that is beautiful, useful, or both, there is a whole lot more going on than meets the eye. Character is forged in the heart of the developing craftsman. Intelligence is formed through the coordination of hands and mind in service to the making of beautiful things. If you want to learn something and learn it well, try teaching it to someone else. I have felt honored to share my own skills with others at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. I have become a better woodworker through participating in this school.

In 2009, I was honored in my home state by being named an Arkansas Living Treasure. That particular award is given by the Arkansas Department of Humanities and Arkansas Arts Council to persons who have had some effect in transferring their own skills in traditional crafts to others. I may have gotten that award without having been a teacher at MASW, but I doubt it. If you change one small thing in a world in which all things appear to be interconnected, the whole world follows suit.

What Marc has done in building this school has had profound influence on the lives of others, here in Indiana, and around the world. The experience of being here, whether as student or teacher has given us each new dimensions, empowering us to give more to our families and communities.

And so, what can I say, but thanks? Thanks a million and forever. MASW changes lives. The students from MASW change lives. And Marc stands at the apex of an incredible thing.— Doug Stowe
Jerry reports that they'd kept the secret of the award right up to the last minute. Marc was blown away and received a long standing ovation.  I will spend the day continuing to get ready for my class at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking that begins Monday, August 7, 2017.

Students in Steve Palmer's furniture class at ESSA are finishing up, and showed tables they have in progress during yesterday's studio stroll.

Make, fix, create and provide for others to learn likewise.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

almost ready to print.

Last night I received a digital review copy of my box guitar book so I will be reading and making notes at various times most of the day.  I will read through looking for errors in the text and will check that photos are in sequence and that captions are properly placed. The project and detail photography by Danielle Atkins is superb and the guitars I made are made to look great.

I took all the step-by-step photographs in the book and wrote the text and captions. Then everything was turned over to my editor, and then the book designer. A good book is a team effort. Sitting at the computer, however, reading over and over again what I wrote several months ago, looking for errors is mind numbing, so to keep fresh, I'll journey back and forth to and from the woodshop.

In addition, I'll work on finishing the text for an article in Fine Woodworking about cutting finger joints on the table saw. With a few days of attention my wood shop is beginning to emerge from chaos.

Make, fix, create and insist that others be given the opportunity to love learning likewise

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

hook, line and sinker.

A few years back I was cleaning and arranging in the school wood shop when a young family came by. They had seen the school sign, and stopped as they were curious (as most parents are) about the options for their kid. They seemed intrigued with the school as I gave them a brief tour and were amazed by the wood shop. But then the big question came up as the mother asked, "What are your test scores?" It was a question I could not answer, but one that rests at the heart of the American educational calamity.

I propose a war against the standardized testing industry. The reductionary tactic of turning young children into a purely statistical analytical shadows of their themselves should be regarded as a criminal enterprise. Standardized testing only monitors and measures certain areas of intelligence and while it was once used as a tool and kept mum by educators, it became a club used inexpertly to batter and divide, those who were or were not going to college, and to predict and sort students into piles. The worst part is that parents, out of their own insecurity, bought in to the over entanglement between education and the standardized testing industry, hook, line and sinker.

The phase "hook, line and sinker," has become commonplace, and can be said without the reader visualizing what it means. But if you have ever reeled in your Zebco with a line that had been left unattended during lunch, and attempted to extract a swallowed hook from an entangled fish, you will know that catch and release is no longer an option. If as a young child, you had to pull the guts from a fish, you may know what we are up against.

I had a lovely conversation this week with a young educator challenged with proving the results and efficacy of her teaching efforts, with kids who have already been damaged both by society and by the distortions inherent in classroom management. I wish I had more to offer her than to decry the stupidity of our situation.

Yesterday I had the delight of assisting students in Steve Palmer's furniture class at ESSA. It is a lovely thing to see people create, and to assist them in seeing their own industrial aspirations bear fruit.

Make, fix, and create...

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

telling the story of ourselves.

Oak shrink pot by Richard Law
Richard Bazeley in Australia sent me a scanned page from a book Storymen by Hannah Rachel Bell with the following explanation:
"It's a book largely about David Mowaljarlai an aboriginal elder of the Kimberly region in the north of Western Australia and his efforts to explain through story his people's knowledge and ways of learning. Aboriginal culture and knowledge... 60,000 to 65,000 years old, is passed on by oral and experiential learning (hands on learning). I think that this extract makes an interesting point about the difference between our two cultures and the impact of learning methods on culture."
I will quote from only a portion that may give you the point.
"For those cultures that developed settlements, civilizations and empires the evolution of written languages enabled the development, control and operation of religious, political, social and economic institutions. While access was initially restricted to the élites, reading and writing systems eventually became the means by which people explored the mind and the universe, and communicated story. However these abstract symbolic codes also served to progressively detach human populations from direct, literal connection with the natural world."
Richard Bazeley as he is moving into retirement from teaching wood shop is exploring green woodworking and currently the making of small shrink-pot boxes, a technique dating at least to the Viking era. The idea is that you hollow the form from green wood, make and fit a bottom from dry wood and then allow the sides to shrink, locking the bottom firmly in place. There's a tutorial about the technique here:

The point is that while language can be ignorant of nature to the point that human culture puts itself at dire risk, understanding other non-linguistic means of finding and sharing meaning offer the key to human survival.

As I shared with my class last week and with many of my students throughout the years, story telling is not unique to human beings. The story of the life of the tree is written in its grain. Where there's a knot, there had been a branch. And using woodworking to tell our own story of growth and development is a great fit. Unlike a lot of things these days, it's natural.

Some lovely shrink pots can be found here:

Make, fix, create, and increase in others a love of learning likewise.

Monday, July 31, 2017

women in woodworking

My wood shop is a disaster zone. Today, as I attempt to restore order,  I begin getting ready for my last summer class at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. The class begins on August 7. When that is finished I'll begin preparing for classes at the Clear Spring School.

Today I have a phone conversation scheduled with an educator from the Alexandria Seaport Museum, home of Joe Youcha's program, Teaching Math with Small Boats.

Today, also, a furniture making class for adults begins in the ESSA woodworking studio with Steve Palmer. Steve has 7 students enrolled in the class that will be making small tables, so I will check in during the week.

I have also been attempting to assist a scholar in her chapter of a new book that pertains to the impact of Educational Sloyd on the women's movement. The photo from my archive tells an important story. If anyone thought that woodworking was "women's work," a view from 1898 showing the Sloyd classroom at Nääs, tells another story. Young women played an essential role in the early days of the manual training movement, particularly in the world-wide distribution of Educational Sloyd. Young women and men from all over the world studied Sloyd at Nääs to gain the means to shape the lives of their students.

So how was Educational Sloyd different from the system of manual arts training that most of us know or have heard something about? While most manual arts programs focused on the economic benefits of such training, as students were prepared for industrial employment, Educational Sloyd focused on the formative benefits, as children were shaped in their humanity through the exercise of creative craftsmanship.

The image is a photo that I took of a photo in the archive at Nääs in 2006.

Make, fix, create, and increase the opportunity for others to love learning likewise.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Gordon and Wenonah Fay Holl

A collection of works gathered by friends is featured at the Historic Arkansas Museum in downtown Little Rock.  Gordon & Wenonah Fay Holl: Collecting a Legacy will be on display at the museum until February 2018. Anyone interested in the arts of Eureka Springs, should plan to attend. Gordon and Wenonah Fay Holl were introduced to me by Louis and Elsie Freund, well known artists of Eureka Springs at sometime during the 1980's or early 90's.

The Holls would stop by my booth to visit at the Arkansas Craft Guild's Christmas craft show in Little Rock each year. They accumulated a large and eclectic collection of arts that were then donated to the Historic Arkansas Museum. At the heart of their collection are works by Louis and Elsie Freund, artists who had a profound impact on the arts and artists of my own community of Eureka Springs.

The Holls and their collection serve as a reminder that one needs not be an artist in order to encourage the arts. I cannot remember if Gordon or Wenonah ever bought anything from me and that is not the point. Their  encouragement of craftsmen and artists in our work left a lasting impression.

I want to thank my wife, Jean for having discovered and alerted me to this exhibit.

Make, fix, create, and forge a lasting legacy in the arts.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


I've brought my tools home from ESSA and I will spend the coming week catching up on things, cleaning the shop and getting ready for my next class which will be in Connecticut beginning August 7. My students from the last week have gone home with a collection of small boxes they've made, and will share them along with stories from the week with family and friends.

The small boxes serve as evidence of learning, and evidence of relationship. The things we have made have a special quality and take a special place in our lives.

I have my own lovely boxes made during the week. My favorites are these tiny shaker boxes. It would be easy to make and finish more of them and perhaps to sell a few. On the other hand, the important thing is not to have stuff, or make stuff, but to exist in relationship with important concerns.

A useful term is symbiosis, meaning to live in direct mutually beneficial relationship with one's social, biological and economic milieu. How can one have meaning in one's own life without offering meaning to others? It is all a matter of identifying positive and negative space, and erasing boundaries that isolate us, and hold others in isolation.

Make, fix, create, and use the process to assist others in learning likewise.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Pocket boxes day 5

This is our fifth day of making pocket boxes at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. We will put hinge pins in tiny boxes and make inlaid lids for others. Students will finish the projects' they've started and at some time during the day we will clean the shop to have it ready for the next class.

I will bring home the various tools I took to ESSA, and begin preparing for my next class which will be at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking beginning August 7. There are still openings in that class.  Join us if you can.

I had a chance to play with new designs during this last week. I made some band sawn boxes that look like chunks of wood. The use of pop rivets hidden inside allow them to pivot open. The others are tiny shaker-style bentwood boxes.

In addition, I've been playing with making my own furniture finish based on Sam Maloof's formula that he used on his famous rocking chairs. It is one part urethane finish, one part mineral spirits, and one part boiled linseed oil. It is a simple formula that does not smell as bad as most. Followed by paste wax, and preceded by attention to fine sanding, it can give a lovely finish to a fine box. An additional benefit is that the ingredients to make a quart cost much less that a quart of Danish oil, and you can buy everything you need at your local hardware store.

Make, fix, create, and remind others of the effectiveness of learning likewise.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

3 days, five kinds of box...

My students at ESSA had been at work 3 days, and most have completed 4 or 5 kinds of tiny box. Today we will make hinged and sliding top "pocket boxes." We are each learning and exploring our relationship to the craft, and attempting to express the things that are relatively unique within ourselves.

I have been attempting to make some boxes of new designs to share with my students. One uses buried pop rivets to attach a pivot lid. Another is like a tiny shaker box with lift off lid.  So far, so good. You can make very interesting things from very small pieces of wood.

It's curious how much time is spent by human beings attempting to stand apart from each other and to do so by gaining notice or by defending turf. Loneliness and isolation are not worthwhile goals in human life. We seek to belong. Some gain a mistaken sense of belonging by controlling others. Others gain a sense of belonging by being of service.

In the arts, we are taught to look at both positive and negative space. Positive space is that defined by the shape and outlines of the object. Negative space is all that surrounds it. Thus, negative space describes the relationship of the object in its surroundings. Some of that relationship is visible. Some not. It is interesting that when one looks at an object, and even though we may draw crisp lines at the intersection between perceived shapes, these lines represent illusion and our inability to translate actual relationship onto paper. A painting (or a box) may be a wonderful thing but exists as a representation of relationship that the casual viewer or even its maker, may never fully understand.

There are no definitive lines between I and thou. And let us not forget that we are each a part of one another. That extends even to the least among us  whether we like it or not.

Today at 4PM- 5:30 we will have the ESSA studio stroll. I will demonstrate making tiny boxes. The photo above is of me in my teaching mode at the Mark Adams School of Woodworking, as I attempt to explain the negative space consisting of relationship and potentialities that surround (and inhabit) a simple box. We become better box makers, and better, more imaginative craftsmen, by thinking outside the box.

Make, fix, create, and improve the chances that others learn to love learning likewise.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

day three of pocket boxes.

I am ready for day 3 of making pocket boxes at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. Students already have several boxes in the works. Today I will get them started on two more designs.

Yesterday we made inlay. It's fun.

Make, fix and create.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pocket boxes

Yesterday we went though some design lessons, some slides on the making of pocket boxes, and then began making both bentwood and band sawn boxes in the ESSA pocket box making class. While I only have men in this class for some reason, woodworking is not a gender specific sport. In fact, many of the leaders in the manual training movement were women.

Some may recall Ednah Anne Rich, from my earlier writing. She was the author of an incredible book,  Paper Sloyd. I had known that she was educated in Sloyd at Gustaf Larsson's school in Boston, and then at Otto Salomon's school at Nääs. An inquiry from a reader led me to research by her married name, Edna Rich Morse. She and her many contributions to manual arts training in the US had been mentioned by Charles A. Bennett in his book History of Manual and Industrial Education, 1870-1917. You can read just a bit about her remarkable story here.

My point is that Educational Sloyd in its time, played a role in bringing women forward into positions of leadership in education.
"In 1909, the passage of Assembly Bill 1234 established the Santa Barbara State Normal School of Manual Arts and Home Economics. Ednah Rich was president. The school provided professional training in manual arts for careers in teaching. Rich was appointed to the State Board of Education, the first woman to hold such a post."
It had become commonplace to put boys in woodworking and girls in home economics or textiles, and some might think (wrongly, in my opinion) that the purpose was to enforce gender divisions in society at large. Certainly, the intent in Educational Sloyd was not to "keep women in their place." The photo above is one that I acquired on my visit to Nääs in 2006. It shows teachers at one of Otto Salomon's lectures on the history of education. An open mind might notice the number of women involved.

The building in which the lecture was held was the gymnasium where students were also taught to teach gymnastics and physical fitness. Educational Sloyd, in alignment with Kindergarten and the progressive movement in education, believed in the education of the whole child.

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning likewise.

Monday, July 24, 2017

experts answer

How do you start kids working with wood? What's the first tool to recommend? Lee Valley interviewed folks at a woodworking show. The important thing may not be what tool you start with but that you start. Give them tools and allow them to create.

Today I start a 5 day class at ESSA on making "pocket boxes." Photos of progress will be shared during the week.

Make, fix, create, and allow others to love learning likewise.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

getting ready for pocket boxes.

I have six students for my pocket box class at ESSA that begins on Monday and have room for two more.  If you want to join that class call first thing Monday morning and be prepared for a week of fun. I still have a bit of work to do setting up, and still have an even greater amount of work to do refining the ESSA wood shop.

Yesterday I put up some wall cabinets in the bench room that were left over from my book Building Small Cabinets. One will  hold safety gear and the other small hand tools.

My next class will be Creative Box Making at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, starting in two weeks. There are still limited openings in the class if you want to attend.

One of the great benefit of classes here in Eureka Springs is that this place is so lovely.  It is a place to visit in its own right, and hundreds of thousands do each year. You can come and attend classes and your companion will not be bored while you do so. There's fine dining, fine shopping, and a truly great library.

A good video on the making of iron holdfasts can be found here: It shows a possible point of collaboration between our ESSA woodworking and black smithing studios. I have some of these for my own work bench.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others learn likewise.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


The Chinese have successfully teleported an object to space according to a brief article in Time Magazine, using and further proving the concept of quantum entanglement. The idea of entanglement had even left Einstein scratching his head. But now, scientists speculate that quantum entanglement will have all kinds of applications, including computers that can communicate without possibility of hacking. At some point entanglement may enable large objects to be transported through space instantaneously. (or not)

None of this is unrelated to education. The object of education should be to entangle students in the real world, not to sequester them in idleness and artificiality. So Friedrich Froebel used field trips, play with blocks, crafts, gardening, songs and music and care for small animals as tools to deeply engage students in learning (and in life) and to lead them into a full entanglement in holistic thought. Woodshops, as envisioned in Educational Sloyd were to connect the child further with his own creative and formative capacity, a process launched in Kindergarten.

Just as two photons can be introduced to each other and thence be connected through life, even to the furthest expanses of the universe, the same can be true for human beings. We can be led toward the development of powers that may be inexplicable to those who have not been led toward that same point of entanglement. The point of Froebel's kindergarten was to lead children toward a sense of wholeness that Froebel described using the term Gliedganzes or interconnectedness. One might just as easily use the term from modern physics, entanglement.

Entanglement may offer an explanation for what we commonly call coincidence. For example, earlier in the week, I got an email message from Joe Youcha from Alexandria Seaport Museum asking me to help promote his new books on using boat building to teach math. On the same day, I received an email from another person at the same museum asking to set up a appointment for a telephone interview. Neither was aware that the other was contacting me. Was that coincidence or entanglement, or what Black Elk described as follows:
Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our tepees were round like the nests of birds and these were always set in a circle, the nation's hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.-- Black Elk
I shipped a box guitar yesterday to Woodcraft Magazine, but kept one here for my amusement. Today I will prepare for my week long ESSA class on making "pocket boxes."

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others will become entangled in their own creativity.

Friday, July 21, 2017

studio stroll...

Each Thursday afternoon classes at ESSA things slow down just a bit at the end of the day for  "Studio Stroll" to which members of the community are invited to drink wine, eat snacks and see what students have learned during the week.

Yesterday, I attended a meeting to plan next year's programs, and I attended studio stroll at which professional woodturner Judy Ditmer did a demonstration for guests. I had not realized that woodturning could be performed as stand up  comedy routine. But Judy had the whole group laughing (and learning) for over 20 minutes. I hope we have her on our schedule again for next year.  Word will get out.

I am nearly done with my box guitars and am preparing for my own ESSA class in making "pocket boxes."

There are still spaces available in that class if anyone at the last minute chooses to attend. We will spend the week making very small boxes in a variety of designs, and no prior experience in woodworking is required. Students will carry home new skills, new friendships, and very small boxes to serve as evidence of learning and to share with friends. Register here: If you join next week's class, you will be able to share your own work during a studio stroll of your own.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others love learning likewise.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Those who develop new technologies are often narrowly focused and may lack an understanding of the overall culture and character of humanity at large. Focus too strongly on one thing and you'll miss others.

Yesterday I listened the the radio program 1-A in which an artificial intelligence proponent and expert described the impact of technology on the arts. He described how artificial intelligence, (a-i) would put "art" in the hands of the masses, making all things so easy for all.  With A-i and without carefully cultivating skill of hand and without knowing or learning anything but the manipulation of the device, each of us could be an artist without exerting any effort at all. In fact, we could set our devices in motion, creating art, and just check in on their progress once in a while to observe what we've "done."

And I ask the question that one engaged in the tactile arts must ask.
What is the impact of this proposed future on our humanity? 
We set ourselves apart from the mundane and from each other by developing expertise, skill and creative intellect.  Our creative vision that we hope to share with others comes from within our uniquely meaningful experience. The character and intelligence of the individual human being rests upon having done difficult and demanding things. When all of our judgment, our character and our intelligence has been off-loaded to the artificialized intelligence of our digital stuff, what will remain of us?

That is the future that stands before us now. We can reject that dismal life by engaging in the arts. Make music with a real instrument. Make something real from wood. Paint with a brush on canvas something you witness in real life. When you are done, try again and attempt to improve what you've done.

A vision of that future when very little remains of us was imagined by E.M. Forster in his short story, The machine stops. I have shared this short story before with readers because it is prophetic.

It was written and published in 1909

Today I will string guitars and finish the photography and text.

Make, fix and create...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

gender and sloyd...

Yesterday I visited the turning studio at ESSA and noted that there is an exact balance between men and women in attendance. The teacher is a woman. Any notion that woodworking is gender specific is in error.

Unfortunately, in the early days of Educational Sloyd, the roles of men and women were relatively fixed within society. Women at that time did not have the right to vote or own property, and this was true in most cultures around the world.

Given those circumstances, it made sense for boys to learn those things that would be accomplished outside the home, and women to be taught those things that were learned and done within. The gentleman in the photo above is Hans Thorbjörnsson, my guide to my visit at Nääs in 2006. Together we went though a huge archive of photos showing men and women almost in equal number, students from all over the world, learning to teach Sloyd. Attendance at Nääs prepared women returning to the US prepared to take leadership roles in American Education.

Unlike the Russian system of woodworking education, that was intended to prepare students for industrial employment, Educational Sloyd was intended to prepare students for life. This did not favor men over women. In fact, following the guidance of Froebel and Pestalozzi, the gifts of women in the teaching profession were well accepted and promoted. While the stupidity of earlier times failed to recognize women as full partners in voting and property rights, the character and quality of the individual (men and women) was of primary concern in Sloyd.

Today I will finish work on the article about making a box guitar.

Make, fix, and create...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

turning the world around.

This week at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts, we have a class with Judy Ditmer. She is a nationally known woodturner who has written for a variety of publications and we are pleased to have her teaching here.

A person standing at a lathe is not just making an object, but is also transforming self in the spirit of craftsmanship.

I listened to a report yesterday speculating on the return of manufacturing in America. Manufacturers are are finding too few persons interested. Too few have an understanding of what it takes to build a quality product. And so we wonder when educational policy makers will begin to connect the dots.

Schooling must not be about reading and math alone, but must also help students find joy in making real things in service of family and community.

I have been continuing to order things needed for equipping the new wood shop, and yesterday I ordered lamps to fit each of our 9 Robust lathes. I had felt that the lathe room has been just a bit dark, but the spot lights at each lathe will not only brighten the place but also make each lathe station a stage for performance art.

Today, In addition to working on the article about making a box guitar, I'll be preparing for my week long class making pocket boxes.

Make, fix, create, and share what you learn so that others may learn likewise.

Monday, July 17, 2017

almost done

I am attending to the final details on the box guitar for Woodcraft Magazine. The bit of blue tape is to glue down a chip that was coming loose. The steel plate for attaching the strings is ready to attach after the finish is applied.

The point of this guitar is that it can be quickly made and still worthy of play. The more you make the better you get at it, and by applying yourself over a period of time, and adding just a bit to your knowledge as you go, some degree of mastery can be attained.

Choose a worthy goal for yourself. Apply yourself over time. The goal may be in music, the culinary arts, gardening or in the tactile arts and visual arts.

In a comment on an earlier post, Kim Brand described giving a work bench to his grandson. He had not realized how important having a creating space of his how might be to his grandson's level of enthusiasm. Kim further described how the neighbor children now come to watch his grandson's creative efforts.  A bench vise might be a good addition.

Years back, following a presentation I made on the Wisdom of the Hands at the Craft Organization Development Association meeting, an artist told me of having purchased woodworking tools for her grandson. Her daughter-in-law would not let them in the house. She was concerned her son would make a mess and damage the furniture. So she had chosen instead to make a mess of her son's life.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


I am home from the Stowe family reunion in Montana, and I'm ready to finish making a couple box guitars for an article in Woodcraft Magazine. I will also begin getting ready for a class at ESSA making pocket boxes. I expect to see review files for my box guitar book soon, and I am also getting ready for a class at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking beginning August 7. There are still openings in the class in Connecticut.

A few photos from my trip are as follows:
  1. A view from the wooden vessel DeSmet, while on a tour of MacDonald Lake. 
  2. A view of MacDonald Lake with standing dead trees from the forest fire of 2003.
  3. My daughter standing on the Continental Divide on the trail to Hidden Lake.
  4. The Road to the Sun.
  5. A typical view in the Glacier National Park.
The DeSmet is one of the fleet of old wooden tour boats still kept operable on the lakes of Glacier National Park.  These wonderful boats were featured in Wooden Boat Magazine last year. It was lovely being in Glacier National Park and seeing the number of young families getting a taste of wilderness.

Make, fix, create and introduce children to the wonderful world of nature and of real things.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

cocktails for a cause...

This week while I am in Montana, Cocktails for a Cause in Eureka Springs will be held at
Amigo's Restaurant on Spring St. in downtown Eureka Springs at 5 PM Thursday, July 13. Cocktails for a Cause is being held as a fundraiser for the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. Part of the fundraiser will be the auction of a box that I made for a product review in the current issue of Fine Woodworking Magazine.

It is made from spalted sycamore, walnut and cherry.

The box to be auctioned is shown in the photo.

While I've been away on vacation, the ESSA wood studio hosted 30 members of the Stateline Woodturners for three days of demonstration and class.

Make, fix, and create.

Monday, July 10, 2017

making minor adjustments in perception of the real world.

I am in Montana for a family reunion but have brought work with me in the form of digital photos that I'll select, label and caption for the article about making a box guitar for Woodcraft Magazine. I am also working on a couple more articles for Fine Woodworking Magazine. One will be about making finger joints on the table saw, and the other being considered is about making a child's workbench based on those we've used for years at the Clear Spring School.

It is beautiful here, and it is a treat to see so many members of my extended family. Today's our cooking day. We will prepare dinner for the whole family. My jobs will be to tote and chop.

When artists look at the world in an effort to draw what they see, they are encouraged to look at both positive and negative space. In positive space, shapes are formed by light falling on the boundaries of the object. Negative space consists of the emptiness or empty space between positive forms. As examples, if you are standing with your hand on hip and your elbow extended, the triangular space formed between the crook of your arm and your torso would be called negative space, or if two people stand apart, the space between would be negative space.

Unlike the artist, we are taught to dwell upon and identify positive forms related to positive space. It is easier to simply name an object than to comprehend all the relationships of that object's place in the world. And yet things are complex and profound. One of the exercises I use in teaching box making is that of thinking outside the box. It is easy to think of a box in a simplistic matter, and yet, a simple box, when viewed from a variety of perspectives is complex. What is to hold, what are the materials used, how are the corners secured, and how does it open? How is it decorated (if it is), and what skills are expressed in its making? And of course what's the point?

The exercise of examining the real world, beyond the prejudgements we and others have made of it requires that we examine the not so empty space that surrounds us. We are given a choice in life. We can think of ourselves as isolated, separate and alone, or we can instead understand that the artificial boundaries within which sequester ourselves is illusion. The space between us in not empty space. It is filled with relationship. When we we make an effort to understand both positive and negative space we know that we are not truly individuals, but are instead, part of an incredible wholeness. And as parts of that wholeness and as we begin to understand our opportunities within that wholeness, we may choose to go great lengths to take great care of each other.

This is not new information. Anaxagoras, in the image above holds what appears to be a model of the world even before the earth was known to be a sphere. He was the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who said that "Man is the wisest of all animals because he has hands." Anaxagoras also believed that "in everything there is a share of everything," foreshadowing Froebel's concept of Gliedganzes or inter-connectedness. So all this is about things you can learn in Kindergarten and wood shop.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, July 07, 2017

my remaining summer classes...

My first two summer box making classes were full and are now past. I have two more coming up and there are still spaces available in each.

Beginning July 24 I have a week long class in making Pocket Boxes at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. August 7-11 I have a class in Creative Box Making at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking.

I get questions about my teaching schedule, and these two classes are what remain. Join me if you can.

A woodworking club in Minneapolis asked if I could take a video of myself to help them sell their members on a proposed class in November. Self-produced video is out of my line, but I referred them to a video interview produced by friends, Murdo Laird and Nancy Paddock.

The photo shows drilling a sound hole in the top of a box guitar. I fitted and glued a circle of walnut into a  hole in the cedar top, and then drilled a smaller hole through it. The loose piece at the center is scrap. Some sanding of the edges will finish the job.

Make, fix, and create.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

As you can see...

The photo shows progress in making a box guitar. The screws holes have been pre-drilled into the solid maple so they will enter the wood in an accurate position and without splitting the wood. Those who have worked with hardwood will know that it is called "hard" for a reason. Nails cannot enter the wood without bending or splitting. Screws? pilot holes are required. Most hardwoods have amazing strength and density, and maple in particular is hard and dense. Blocking glued on the inside of the guitar box gives additional strength to the attachment of box and neck.

My goal today is to get as many photos of guitar making done as I can so that when I go to a family reunion next week, I'll have editing and captioning to do in my spare time.

This weekend at ESSA, the Stateline Woodturners will meet for a demonstration and class. Stateline Woodturners are from Missouri and North Arkansas and is an organization chartered by the American Association of Woodturners. I welcome them to our new facility and wish them happy turning and learning at The Eureka Springs School of the Arts.

Make, fix, create, and adjust your own life to assist others in learning likewise.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

necks and frets

Yesterday I shaped maple necks and cut the tight grooves for installing frets. It went faster than I expected,  not because I have any particular skills but because I've done it before. Experience counts. I used a template to mark the location for each fret and then used a block of wood clamped in place to help guide the saw.  After the neck is cut to its final length I can fit it to the box and install the top and back of the guitar. I hope to have much of it completed on Thursday.

That a box guitar can be so quickly made should convince others to do likewise.

Kim Brand  sent a link to a paper explaining the role of independent schools in bringing about school reform. The paper concerns the Hawken School in Cleveland: Why Hawken Has to Lead. It is an attempt to explain to the school community and others why independent schools (also like Clear Spring School) must have the courage to lead in bringing about real change. It should help some to understand that standardization leads to mediocrity. In trivializing education through abstract and trivial standards, we trivialize the child.

The correct formula is simple. Put children to work and play doing (and thereby learning) real things that benefit their communities. Student character and intelligence are allowed to grow when student interests and higher purposes are met. Instead of meeting artificial standards, doing real things has no upper limit and has real purpose understood by the child in real time as it applies in his or her own life.

Make, fix, create and adjust all schooling so that others may learn likewise.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

fixing things and scrap...

Yesterday, in addition to beginning work on guitar necks, I ordered repair tools for the new wood studio at ESSA and learned that the wood studio is offering an unexpected benefit. The women who oversee and tend the iron studio had discovered a barrel full of our scrap. They asked, "What are you planning to do with all that?"

I was asking that question myself. Would we compost it, burn it, or have it hauled away in the trash? Instead we will make a box to hold special pieces of wood useful for making scales for knives, and now, having some idea of what they want, we can sort and save special pieces for their use. The remainder will be composted.

The photo shows the thumbnail layout of the article about making box guitars. You can tell that the editor from Woodcraft, Tim Snyder, is one of those who had drafting in high school or college. How many these days letter so neatly and with such style? Click on the image to see it in a larger size and you'll see what I mean.

I am using the thumbnail design to guide my photography. It illustrates what will become 8 pages of photos and text.

Happy fourth of July. In our local community small aerial bombs were bursting all through the night. North Korea now has an intercontinental ballistic missile. May we find our way toward living with them in peace. The making of useful beauty serves both community and self. We are made better persons when we are engaged in making things that serve others. We may also find joy in the process.

Make, fix, and create. The world will be better for it.

Monday, July 03, 2017

teaching alone in my shop.

Yesterday I began making the box part of a box guitar. The first step is to prepare the materials for the sides. I used a band saw to rip maple stock right down the middle so it could be planed to final thickness of about 3/8 in. The sides of this box will be arranged with a four corner match and be held together by keyed miter joints.

The four corner match with grain running continuous around all four corners of the box is accomplished by book matching, a process in which the board is simply opened inside out, just as one would open a book. Normally book matching is done with the grain in the parts running side by side. For book matching sides, the match is achieved end to end.

The small walnut keys will add interest to the corners. Some viewers say "I like the inlay in the corners," as they may not understand that the keys have more than decorative effect. They strengthen the joint.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, the camera is a frequent guest in my shop, allowing me to teach and share when no one else is present. It is an undemanding guest. It never asks for lunch. But it enables me to share what I've done.

After taking the photos, I'll go through them and write captions and text to describe what the photos show and some of what they cannot show. Then copies of the photos will be sent to the magazine for review.

This is 4th of July weekend when our small town is overrun with guests who have come for the holiday. It is great to have so many people in town, but it is also a great time to stay home, off the highway, and in my own shop. Today I expect to add the walnut keys to the box I have assembled, then turn my attention to shaping the neck. By the end of the week, I plan to have the box guitar ready for strings.

Make, fix, and create. By doing so, you may encourage others to learn likewise.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Finding a less trivial pursuit...

Today I am putting things away from having taught at ESSA all week. I supplied jigs and tools for making a variety of joints for boxes, and those must be returned to their places, and order must be returned to my home shop. There is a relationship between internal order and the external form. My internal processing tends to be impulsive and creative, and my shop falls along the same messy path. But fitting the camera safely into the shop is like having a guest. For writing an article for a magazine (as I begin today), I'll try to attain a less cluttered field of view.

This is the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the iPhone. Now, everywhere we go, eyes are focused on screens both big and small. At dinner in restaurants, couples can avoid eye contact while completely engaged in self-trivialization.

This morning as I stepped between the house and shop, a very tiny brown toad was jumping along the walk. Smaller by far than a copper penny, it's a reminder that not all life is as trivial as what we might pursue on our phones.  I did use my phone to take a photo of it. Being less attentive to real life, I might have stepped on it instead.

Make music, make conversation, make beautiful and useful things. Observe nature and learn from it.

Make, fix, create, and increase the opportunity for others to learn likewise.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

a day of rest...

I am home from teaching a 5 day box making class in the new woodworking studio at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts and will begin ordering some of the things that are still needed there. For instance, we need a full set of tools to do various things related to maintenance of equipment. We borrowed stools from the blacksmithing studio for last week's course, and those will be replaced with stools dedicated to the wood studio. The acquisition of various things will go on for awhile, and we are pleased (and grateful) that additional funds have been given by various donors.

Today I rest. Tomorrow I begin work on an article for Woodcraft Magazine about making a box guitar.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) seems to be on the rise as high tech manufacturing is growing in the US and jobs are hard to fill. As I've discussed earlier, educational policy makers had insisted that all student needed to go to college, and that the entire thrust of their education pre-k through 12th grade should be oriented toward that singular goal.

Junius L. Meriam in his book, "Child Life and the Curriculum," 1921, insisted that curriculum should not be designed toward some future goal, but should assist the child in living his or her life in the present time. Education is burdened by abstraction, and artificiality which is a part of what I meant when I wrote;
“In schools we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement… Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract, and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged.”
That short passage was quoted by Matthew Crawford at the opening of his best selling book Shop Class as Soulcraft. I ran across Matt Crawford quoted in this week's Time Magazine in an article about how manufacturers are actively taking away from farmers the right to repair their own equipment. In that article, Crawford notes: "Being able to be the master of your own stuff, to open it up and take a look and take care of it, answers to a vary basic human need." If you can own a tractor, but not have control of the software that enables it to work (as is the case now), manufacturers can bleed you for all you're worth.

You can help push our society in the right direction by supporting "Right to Repair" bills in your local legislature, but in doing so, you will be facing a huge wall of resistance from corporations who want to keep you from being able to fix your own stuff.

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning likewise.