Saturday, April 30, 2022

Fine Woodworking

My publisher placed an ad for my new book in Fine Woodworking as you see here. 

In my wood shop I've been inlaying box lids, a thing I expect I'll be doing even in my 80s. 

Make, fix and create...

Friday, April 29, 2022

We're not the only ones

The Eliot School in Jamaica Plain, MA has been working with the J.F. Kennedy Elementary School in their town to provide woodworking lessons to all the kindergarten kids. It's a joyous experience that all schools should offer. The screen shot shows a kindergarten class in action. You can read about it here:

Make, fix and create...

Thursday, April 28, 2022

wooden boats

Yesterday in the woodshop at the Clear Spring School, my Kindergarten students, our "Rainbow Group," made toy boats. They loved the project, as did I. The level of enthusiasm they bring to the woodshop is an amazing thing.

Make, fix and create...

Tuesday, April 26, 2022


During WWII, a friend of my father, Lovell Lawrence, Jr. was called in as a consultant to solve a problem with de-icing on the B-25 bomber. Mechanical engineers wanted to solve the problem mechanically, Electrical engineers wanted to solve the problem electrically, and hydraulic engineers wanted to solve the problem hydraulically. And so the problem engineers faced was one easy for Lovell Lawrence to solve. It required asking engineers of various kinds to step out of their disciplines to work together.

Lovell Lawrence, known to my Dad and friends as "Bunny"settled things by telling the various engineers which portion of the project was theirs to do. Portions of it needed to be solved electrically, portions mechanically and portions hydraulically. Bunny who had dropped out of college, his own thinking being far advanced of his professors in various disciplines, later became president of Reaction Motors, Inc., won the Goddard award for rocket engineering, and was head of the Lunar Landing project for Chrysler.

Bunny's story is one of knowing how to think outside the box. I met Bunny and his wife when I was a very small child and they were visiting my parents in Memphis, TN. Today I was reminded of Bunny's story by a letter to the editor written to our local paper by our local librarian, April Griffith. Her letter concerns an essay written by the head of our local Electric Coop that supplies electricity throughout many parts of rural Arkansas. Rob Boaz was insisting that subsidies be restored to fossil fuels like coal and gas and that subsidies be removed from various forms of renewable energy. In other words, you can be an engineer in a narrow subset of ideas and be the CEO of a billion dollar organization and still be dumb as a post when it comes to a more holistic view of reality. The saddest thing is that there are numerous folks in Arkansas that could be influenced to agree with him, while Mr. Boaz needs to get out more.

Bunny, when he was visiting my folks in Memphis, offered my dad a job in the fledgling Reaction Motors, Inc. and I'll note that my own life would have been far different if he had taken it.

Today in the woodshop my students made their own rulers using the widths of their own thumbs to lay out the "inch" marks. With an interest in helping them understand measuring at a deeper level, we then laid out half inch and quarter inch marks, each being found half-way between the previous marks. The point of course, was to go from the concrete into the  abstract and what could be more concrete than the use of our own thumbs.

Make, fix and create...

Monday, April 25, 2022

Pop Wood

Popular Woodworking has published an excerpt from my new book in their June issue. Subscribers should watch for it arriving in their mail very soon if it's not gotten to you already. 

In the wood shop today at the Clear Spring School we began a new unit by exploring the relationship between the thumbs and the development of a system of measure. Tomorrow we'll go deeper in exploring the inch. How many know that the inch is actually derived from the width of a man's thumb? Or that  our own hands might be useful as a method of measure? 

In class my student used their own thumbs to plan and measure the length of simple pivot lid wooden boxes. I want my students to become masters of measuring before the block is completed, and making small wooden boxes will be a good way to propel us toward that goal.

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

Sunday, April 24, 2022

book review

Becca Martin-Brown reviewed my new book in the Northwest Arkansas edition of today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The paper to watch for is April 24, 2022. You can read the text of the article here:

Today I've been sanding and assembling small maple drawers, and planning for a new block to begin at school in the morning.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, April 23, 2022

small drawers

In my home woodshop I've been attempting to finish old projects that have languished for some reason or another. These trial assembled drawers are for two small jewelry chests that I'd begun years ago. 

They are made from maple and are made with simple  mortise and tenon joints. I'll show photos of the finished jewelry chests at a much later date.

Another project is to finish a silk wood box made using round Vertex hinges. The walnut pull resting on top is left over from a much earlier project and will be fitted to the front of the lid

Make, fix and create...

Thursday, April 21, 2022

play with blocks

The kids at Clear Spring School set up the big Froebel blocks as a playfield and obstacle course as you can see. Every school should provide kids the opportunity to design their own playground experiences, including the structures themselves.

Make, fix and create...

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Wooden Boat

Yesterday i addition to helping my students making boxes and turn on the lathe, I received my copy of Wooden Boat Magazine containing Joe Youcha's review of "The Wisdom of Our Hands." It is a good review. Joe wrote of the book—

"I read it in two big gulps, and as I did, I identified with the book’s message so much that I began making a list of everyone I thought should read it. By the time I finished, that list included anyone studying at a craft school, all the people I work with, and all the people I’ve ever taught. I especially wish I could buy copies for all the people who taught me, and who are no longer here. I actually want to buy it for everyone I know."

Joe Youcha, a graduate of Columbia University, but no stranger to handwork, is the founder of Building to Teach, a former director of the Alexandrea Seaport, and well known and respected in the Wooden Boat community. He is also the designer of the wooden boats we made at the Clear Spring School. Wherever there's enough water to float a boat, kids and adult mentors should be making them. Joe is the guide for that and more.

The photos show our students building a Bevin's skiff of Joe's design.

Make, fix and create...


Monday, April 18, 2022

When things work out.

Today in woodshop I did an experiment in preparing an elm log for turning on the lathe. What I wanted to do was to simply take a slice off each side so that the short firewood-length log could be mounted on the lath chuck. Woodturning is nearly always experimental and of course that's part of its appeal. We wonder, "can I do that?" and "how?"And then are pleasantly surprised when things work out.

Normally in cutting a log on the bandsaw, that it is round causes difficulties as it passes through the cut. If it twists even the slightest amount, the blade can bind and the flat surface desired will not result. What's needed is a way to hold it steady without twisting as it passes through the cut. 

There are of course, more complicated processes and jigs for this. With an interest in keeping things as simple as possible, I decided to screw a piece of plywood to the side of the log, positioning the screws where they do not interfere either with the cut, or in what's planned as the finished bowl.

It worked, and the technique will be published as a tip to American Woodturner Magazine. More photos will be taken from various angles tomorrow. The masking tape provides a guide for making the freehand cut.

In the meantime, as I observe sales on Amazon, the new book is near the top in three categories among the millions of books they sell. More important to me, however, is the glowing review of the book I received in email this morning from Hans Thorbjörnsson in Sweden. He was my early mentor as I gained an understanding of Educational Sloyd and to hear his praise means a great deal.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Easy to read

I got a nice email this morning from a reader related to my new book, Wisdom of Our Hands. He said the book was "easy to read and enjoyable," those being two of the goals I'd set for myself. There are many books of note on the subject of the hands and crafts that rely on second and third hand information, leaving them somewhat abstract. My own goal was to make it personal, meaning that I would tell my own story as well as invite my readers to explore their own experiences to bring the message home. 

I hope this simple strategy—moving from the concrete to the abstract helps my book to enter a popular market. Good sales are good, the message is important.

Make, fix and create...

Dual awareness

I have this belief that we are connected with each other in unseen ways, and if we are attempting to find clarity, those ways are gradually revealed. Sometimes suddenly that is the case. It's called enlightment.


There’s a phenomenon described in Nuclear Physics called “quantum entanglement” according to which, if two particles are introduced to each other and then thrust apart to the furthest reaches of the universe, what’s done to one is known to the other. Perhaps our own beings are too complex and too distracted to register and make conscious to ourselves the myriad connections between us. We spend endless hours spinning outwards toward greater complexity without seeking that which lies within.

Friedrich Froebel, the inventor of Kindergarten, saw the purpose of education as being the discovery of our interconnectedness within the frameworks of family, community, and nature. But that’s not 

what most of us were taught in school. We were taught and encouraged to attempt to stand apart and ahead as separated from each other and to seek recognition in inconsequential things. The centrifugal force. 

And yet, there’s growth that comes from recognizing and accepting that which lies within. This can require that we circle back towards simplicity, attempting to occupy an abandoned space within. The conscious engagement of the hands can be a part of the process. What we see and like, we must then touch and ascertain.

Yesterday I got my second covid-19 booster shot, not because I'm frightened of the disease, but because it's important that we protect others. Recognizing that we are indeed interconnected, we do such things.

Artists are taught to look at both positive and negative space. The positive space is contained within the outlines of the object. Negative space is that space that lies between. Negative space is not empty space like that to be found at the furthest corners of the universe. It is filled with strings and streams of entanglement—the interconnectedness that can be found by turning within.

As the world launched itself into the beginnings of WWI Carl Jung began his exploration of cosmic consciousness called the Red Book. As we sit once again on a precipice of World War, and as Putin threatens the use of nuclear weapons, as he's threatened in the past, we all have the need of finding places of peace within. Jung used his angst at the onset of WWI to attempt to engineer his own understanding of human consciousness.

Years ago a group of us from Eureka Springs would go each Sunday afternoon to a mediation group led by a retired engineer named Guy Loyd. Guy's theory of things was based on a concept he called "dual awareness." The idea of dual awareness was to bring ourselves in balance by holding a focus on oneness and interconnectedness as we went through our daily complications. It was like an artist holding an awareness of positive and negative space at the same time.

In the meantime, I'm given joy by observing joy as Goldendoodle Rosie chews a stick while also holding a favorite toy tightly in her paws.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, April 15, 2022

A sad day...

Yesterday my wife and I learned we'd lost an old friend in a tragic accident the night before. Lin Welford was the co-founder with my wife of the Books-in-Bloom Literary Festival here in Eureka Springs, an avid environmentalist, and library supporter. She was also the author of a whole series of books about painting on rocks, and a whole lot more than that.

She played a very important transformational role in my life. In about 1994 or so, and as a best selling author for F&W Publications, she invited David Lewis to come to Eureka Springs to meet various artisans who might be interested in writing a book for them. David's trip to Eureka Springs led to my being invited to write my first book, Creating Beautiful Boxes with Inlay Techniques. Now, after 14 books, I still have Lin to thank.

Lin's death reminds us that life is precious and can hang in the balance. Her life reminds us that we are connected with each other through serial effect—as things are set in motion in each other's lives. We are deeply and lastingly connected through the effects we have on each other, and had Jean and I not had Lin in our lives, our own lives would not be the same. 

We tend to think of ourselves as distinct individuals. We are not. We are profoundly and intricately connected to each other, and will remain so.

Make, fix and create...

Thursday, April 14, 2022

a review

A reader identified as "Avid Woodworker" left a review of my new book, "The Wisdom of Our Hands" on Amazon as follows: 

"I have been a hobbyist woodworker for over 60 years. Although this book is NOT a "how to do it" book it is proving to be the most effective book for improving my woodworking skills that I have ever read. Reading Doug's book is improving my use of the two most useful tools in my shop, my mind and my attitude." 

Today in the woodshop at the Clear Spring School, I helped high school student Henry build a box for his chess set. It's nearing completion, and I'll have photos to show at a later date.

Make, fix and create... 

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

boxes of blocks

Today my Kindergarten students (the Rainbow Group) will be finishing the Froebel blocks they're making and building boxes to keep them in. The finished sets will look like those made by my high school students yesterday, but will likely not appear so well made.

Make, fix and create... Build your life upon these notions.

Monday, April 11, 2022

24 boxes

My students at ESSA finished 24 boxes  (3 apiece) in our three day class. In the photo I'm the old guy on the left. 

It was a very good class with all the students helping each other,  and for me, it is a rewarding and invigorating experience.

Folks, noticing that I teach both adults and  kids, ask "what's the difference between the two?" Learning at its best is always a matter of play. 

That's why Kindergarten is important, even today. It utilized the natural interest and engagement of the kids, doing real things and could serve as a model for the reinvigoration of all schooling.  

At ESSA. The tools are real, the materials are real. All the senses are engaged, and compare that to public school classrooms where kids are watching the clock, hoping to hear the bell and get the hell out.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, April 09, 2022

box making day 2

Yesterday my students in the wood shop at ESSA began making two boxes. A third box will be started today. The photo shows cutting finger joints using a dedicated ringer joint router set up. I have 8 students and the class is going well!

Make, fix and create...

Friday, April 08, 2022

box making...

Today I have 8 students for a three day box making class at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. I'll attempt to take a few photos during my very busy days.

Yesterday I arrived on the Clear Spring School campus to find our giant Froebel blocks, sets 3 and 4 arranged as a stage complete with seating and a cut up tractor tire for good measure.

Every small school in the country should have such cool blocks on their playgrounds. Even without administrators understanding Froebel or the true value of Kindergarten students would know how to learn from the blocks. The blocks and benches were made in the Clear Spring School wood shop.

Make, fix and create...

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Kindergarten Woodworking

We had a very nice book signing at the Crescent Hotel last weekend and this week I've been back to work in the wood shop at the Clear Spring School. Today, my Kindergarten class began making sets of wooden Froebel blocks. When the blocks are finished and sanded, we'll make boxes to hold them so they can be kept and shared with the younger children in their families.

Last night I did a zoom presentation for the Northwest Corner Woodworker's Association and I was telling them of the joy that's to be found in teaching woodworking, particularly to the younger kids who show such enthusiasm for the work.

At this point I've done about all that I can do to promote my new book without being obnoxious. I hope others will take up the cause and assist and that the book takes on a life of its own. 

This week it will be reviewed in the Sunday edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and very soon, reviews will be published in Popular Woodworking, Wooden Boat Magazine, and Quercus, a magazine in the UK that's distributed in the US. If it takes on the life that the hands deserve, it will likely be because you've helped me to promote it.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, April 03, 2022

A big day...

At 9 AM Central Time the local NPR Affiliate KUAF will broadcast a longer version of my radio interview with Kyle Kellams on "Ozarks-atLarge." Then this afternoon I have my book signing at the Crescent Hotel from 2-4 PM. I'll do a short talk, a short reading and be available for questions as well as signing copies of my new book, "The Wisdom of Our Hands: Crafting, A Life."

You can listen to the KUAF broadcast on any smart-speaker devise. Ask Alexa or Google to "play KUAF radio" at 9 AM if you are in the central time zone.

Make, fix and create...