Saturday, October 31, 2020

a nail box

I called one of our Arkansas senators yesterday (the reasonably sane and relatively humane one) and asked how he could continue to support a president and a party that actively works to suppress the workings of democracy. The receptionist told me that if I had concerns about our election I should call the Arkansas secretary of state. 

There's a huge disconnect in place. We worry as our democratic society goes down the drain, while Republicans plan new extreme measures to keep themselves in power, even going so far as to attempt to cripple the US mail. Even those Republicans who are not so extreme lack the courage to stand up. 

In the 1940's in response to the rise of fascism young men like my father, put their live on hold to go to war, and risking their own lives, thousands died. These days Republicans elected to public office refuse to stand up to President Trump even though all they have to do is stand up. They don't have to train for combat. They don't have to leave their families. They don't even have to leave the comfort of their homes. All they have to do is stand up on behalf of democracy. That doesn't even require real courage. It only takes honesty and decency to bring the wanna-be fascist dictator into check.

I have never felt so stressed and worried for our nation's future, so I give money to candidates who have concerns for democracy and health, and who have in their hearts the idea that we can work together to bring greater benefits to all and that governments can serve without outrage and division.

I am once again at work on my book, the wisdom of our hands, doing a second draft taking into consideration comments from my publisher. This gives me a chance to tighten things up, and make my points clear, while also improving the flow of words. Writing is just like any other craft. It gets better through practice, and the prototype is often not the better of products.

In the wood shop I've been preparing projects for kids. This last week my elementary level students made nail boxes to fit in their tool boxes and enjoyed the process. The photo shows one of those. My older students are studying geology and I'm preparing kits for them to make mineral collection boxes. To prepare for that I did a quick video to show the preparation of parts. My videos are low tech, unpolished, but at least offer students a better understanding of woodworking processes.

Make, fix, create. Please Vote if you've not done so already.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Making a nail box

I've published a short video on making a nail box for my students at the Clear Spring School to assemble and use in their tool boxes. 

A number of my books have been on the subject of box making, and coming up with new box designs is fun for me. 

This unusual design features angled ends that make picking up small nails from inside the box easy, as there are no tight corners where nails can get stuck. The magnet embedded in the handle/divider gives additional ease to picking up nails from inside.  The divider is offset to allow for nails of different sizes.

It is a design that I'm certain will interest my students and will be useful in their woodworking. Use the link below to view the video on youtube.

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


Thursday, October 22, 2020

traveling chess sets.

A reader on facebook asked about the age of our students who made traveling chess sets. They were in fifth and sixth grades, and you can read more about the project on this page in my blog and see other photos from the process.

For those interested, the blog is a great source for projects, information about teaching, and advocacy for hands on learning. Started in 2006, it has had millions of page views. There is a search function at the upper left where you can type in a subject related to hands on learning and find earlier posts. 

The photo here shows building a pattern of maple and walnut squares, and surrounding them with strips of cherry veneer. The assembled pattern is then glued on a substrate of Baltic birch ply.

Today I'll be preparing materials for next week's classes, and working on a second draft of my new book, The Wisdom of our hands, crafting family, self, community and human culture.

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

With no clear end in sight let's find reason for hope

This New York Times opinion piece by gifted editorial writer Thomas Friedman looks forward to some of the changes that the Corona virus pandemic may bring.

What if we were all to use easy to acquire resources and tools to cut our ties from dependence on big corporations? We might each develop skills as makers and craftspeople of all kinds.

Yesterday as I was doing prep work in the Clear Spring School wood shop, one of my old students, Wyatt, came by. He's now a corporal in the Marines and married, living at Camp Pendleton. He still has many of the things he'd made in woodshop, including the chess set shown in the photo. We made the chess sets for use during school travel. Wyatt has played on his set with his dad for years. 

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning lifewise.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

for a fair selection

Other woodworking teachers will be interested in this website hosted by Woodcraft Co. to benefit those few woodworking teachers left.

The cartoon illustrates the absurdity of standardized testing in American schools.

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


Friday, October 16, 2020

Woodworking with Kids Volume 2, number 2

I just sent out my email newsletter Woodworking with Kids, Volume 2, Number 2. You can subscribe through this link:

The photo shows the type of hall table I'm making in my home wood shop.

Make, fix and create... Assist others in learning lifewise.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

finished buddy bench

We finished making buddy benches yesterday. I  attended and supervised the first and second grade class via google meets. The benches turned out strong and cute, and the students are very proud of their work.

In the old days, I might have been questioned for doing so much of the work, but welcome to the real world. No craftsman is an island unto him or herself. We are all supported and encouraged and "scaffolded" by others. I remember taking pottery classes both at Hasting College and at Memphis State, and realizing that if I were to work on my own, I would need a wheel, knowledge of where to get supplies and the means to acquire them, and a kiln to go along with the skills I was learning. Then, once pottery was made, I would need a means to sell what I'd made. Each of these components would be dependent on others.

So perhaps the greater lesson in wood shop and in life is that of learning to work with others toward shared goals that align with personal interest.

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

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Building a buddy bench

Today at the Clear Spring School, first and second grade students will be assembling buddy benches. What are buddy benches? When you feel alone, you can sit on one, and be joined by another, thus assuring you're not alone. These are being made from weathered white oak, and will likely last no more than a couple seasons or so. But that will give us the excuse to make more when we have a fresh group of first and second grade students.

I'll be instructing the class via google meets, so have prepared a tutorial covering the making of them. It's roughly done but can be found on my youtube channel. 

Many of the steps involved require greater strength and skill than would be found in an elementary school student. So this is a cooperative project with children and adults working together toward a common goal.

In my own shop I'm building "torsion tables" using a simple technique of my own invention. I've given them that name due to rods used to stabilize the design. The table base is held together with turned front to back cross members, tenoned on each end with holes drilled to allow for the addition of the rods that triangulate the structure. Because the tables are a unique design, I'll attempt to interest various woodworking magazines in allow me to write an article about making them. The photo shows the turning of a basic part.

Make, fix and create.


Thursday, October 08, 2020

first dibs?

A gallery that sells my work asked about a hall table they'd sold a number of years ago, wondering if I had more. The one they sold was part of my response to the Bush Era economic collapse. Remembering depression era furniture, made of scrap wood when furniture makers had very little to work with, I raided the barn where I keep various woods. As a result, I made and sold almost a dozen tables that year, while the economic prospects appeared nearly hopeless.

And so, not having exhausted my supply of beautiful and interesting woods, and not having wasted the knowledge and aesthetic judgement required, I've begun making two tables. Let me know if you want one. Between the two (and a reasonable price), you can have first dibs. The tops are made of soft maple that's spalted. The worm holes, sealed with epoxy, are free.

Yesterday I resupplied Crystal Bridges Museum store with a supply of boxes.

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

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Woodworking at home or in school with kids.

Woodworking at home or at School with kids, Volume 2, number one is out now and can be found here.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, October 02, 2020

Carving a spoon knife

This is a video  produced today for my students at the Clear Spring School. The full playlist of 9 segments can be accessed here:

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning lifewise.