Friday, October 27, 2023


I found the original lego that I'd printed to test whether or not my sketchup illustration instructions (precisely followed) would print a lego accurately enough to fit a real lego. The blue one is an official lego block The clear one is one that I printed using PLA filament on a MakerBot in 2015.

It is satisfying that they fit so well.

Make, fix and create...

"red-handed revolutionists in swaddling clothes."

The horrible dangers of Kindergarten, led  to it being outlawed by the Kaiser in 1851, as was later noted in KINDERGARTEN EDUCATION,  a pamphlet from the US Department of the Interior By ALMIRA M. WINCHESTER, 1919

No other phase of education·is more completely democratic and American than the kindergarten. In this respect the prophecy of the founder has been fulfilled that in America, the new world where new life was and is unfolding, the new education of the human race would take firm root. In Germany, the geographical birthplace of the kindergarten, little more than the outer form and the name is discoverable; the essence is missing. The kindergarten is not at home in Germany.

The edict of the Prussian Government in 1851 forbidding the establishment of kindergartens is tacit evidence that system of education for the people based upon the principle of self-activity, freedom, and respect for individuality was considered a dangerous foe to the success of military autocracy. It was charged at the time that the tendency of the kindergartens was toward atheism and revolution, an indictment that inspired the Berlin comic paper to point out as objects of suspicion "those three-year-old demagogues with their inflammatory speeches, those red-handed revolutionists in swaddling clothes."

All education should be bought to bear a closer resemblance to the original Kindergarten, where kids were to learn by play and by doing real things.

Make, fix and create...

Make Mag.

I received a contributor copy today of Make Magazine, volume 87, their November 2023 issue. It includes my article about making super-sized Froebel blocks representing gifts 3 and 4. And introduces readers to a bit of Froebel's philosophy of learning.

The article introduces the maker community to the wonders of Kindergarten, some perhaps for the first time since Kindergarten is no longer what it once was.
If you like making cool things involving chips, wiring, solder, 3D printing and LEDs, you are probably already familiar with Make Magazine. The company sponsors Maker Faires across the US and around the world.

The book stand is one I made for an article in Woodwork Magazine years ago.

Make, fix and create....

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

proposed publication date

Yesterday I learned that the planned publication date for my new book, Designing Boxes, is April 16. In my shop I'm finishing some work that I'd put aside for various reasons. With the completion of the book, I have lots of clean up to attend to, and finishing of unfinished work is part of that.

I'm working on an article for Make Magazine about 3D printing your own legos using Sketchup software to design them. Gabriel at the Clear Spring School printed some for me on the school's printer. The photo shows that they fit together. Further testing will confirm that they fit real legos.

The point of the original exercise was learning to use the software to build a design, and students had the option of personalizing their designs using raised or embossed letters.

I received a contributor copy today of Make Magazine, volume 87, their November 2023 issue. It includes my article about making super-sized Froebel blocks representing gifts 3 and 4.

Make, fix and create...

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

new items on Etsy

 I added five new listings on Etsy today. They can be found in my shop at

Among them is this one-of-a-kind box made of mahogany. It has a textured lid, is made with hidden spline joints visible only when the lift-off lid is opened.

Make, fix and create...

parts arriving

Parts to fix my Grizzly 6 x 48 in. belt sander will arrive this morning. In preparation, I've taken the sander apart to the point that it can be reassembled with the new parts in place... at a savings of over $500.00 and a savings to our local community and the global environment as well. 

Imagine a world in which things could be made to last, and repaired as necessary. We don't live in that world, but one in which complex devices are made to blow each other up.

I'm reminded of the American bombing in Viet Nam.  We would drop cluster bombs on villages to kill the Viet Cong... each bomb costing thousands of dollars, when if we were to drop Kubota tractors as an alternative to bombs we'd have saved millions of dollars and made friends instead.

There's an article in this month's National Geographic about people living on a small island in the Indian ocean that just wants to be left alone. They defend their solitude by shooting arrows at anyone who lands on their beaches. And of course, they are right. They see the detritus from our civilization in the form of plastic waste arriving each day on the tides and know that what we are doing to the planet should be avoided.

In the news we see children's bodies in body bags, and must remember that each has parents and grandparents that felt them sacred to their own lives. Can we not see that we are one, that there is no other, and that we must begin to act as though we are each sacred to each other? I say this as a new grandparent concerned for the safety and protection of my own grand child.

We have a lovely fall day in the Ozarks. The leaves are falling as they must do each year for refreshing and renewal. If they were not to fall, the ice and snow would tear our trees apart. There are people who drive hundreds of miles to see what I see from my porch. At this point about half of my new book has been turned over to production. What remains is in the hands of my editor for review.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, October 22, 2023

fixing, wearing out and fixing again.

Yesterday, being international repair day and all, my Grizzly 6 x 48 in. belt and disk sander started making a loud thumping sound. I managed to get 44 boxes through their first sanding before the sound became completely unbearable. My choice became buying a new sander to replace my 30 plus year old machine or fixing the one I have. The difference in cost of one vs. the other is enormous, and fortunately Grizzly still has parts for my old machine. How often in this horrid age of planned obsolescence is that still the case?

The repair of the machine, after parts arrive in two days, will take less time than taking a new machine out of the box and bolting the parts together as they come out. Add to that the waste involved in a new machine....  Raw materials, manufacturing, packaging, shipping to the US, distribution by truck or train in the US, delivery, recycling of the old machine and disposal of the packaging that assured the safe delivery of the new machine. The economic costs are reflected in the price paid. The environmental costs are unmeasured.

Then let's consider what are called the "opportunity costs"* 

To compare, I could buy a new machine and have it delivered for $800.00 or fix the one I have for $75. In the latter option I'm left with $725.00 to spend in my local community or save, and the not-insignificant cost of disposing of packaging materials by my community would be spared as well. Those who observe toxic garbage mountains growing in place of real mountains might take note.

There are economic, environmental, social and psychological aspects to consider. There's the money that's saved when things are fixed. There's a savings to the environment when things are given longer life. We build stronger local connections when our resources are directed within our communities rather than squandered abroad. And we receive a greater sense of personal enrichment and psychological empowerment when we fix things, or make the things we find useful in our daily lives. If depressed, make something or fix something. If you fail, no worries. You'll get better at it when you try again.

The photo shows a few boxes readied for routing and finish sanding.

Make, fix and create...

*the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

International repair day

Today is international repair day, celebrating the idea that things should be fixable by the end user, and that we and the things we own should not be held hostage by the companies that manufacture stuff.

The idea of course, is that if something can be fixed and is useful, it should be fixed rather than disposed of and replaced. 

Fixing things not only extends the life of the things we think are important to us, it also builds confidence and competence in society at large, and by doing so, extracts us from slavery to stuff and the folks who supply it. It also alleviates some of the burden borne by our landscape, which currently suffers from abuse.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, October 20, 2023

Mad Hatter Ball

Tonight our annual Mad Hatter's Ball will be held at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs. It is a fund raiser for the Eureka Springs School of the Arts, now celebrating its 25th year. You can view and bid on auction items through this link: The event is sold out, but you can still bid. And you will likely be impressed by the creativity in our community.

Yesterday I inlaid 43 boxes, so hinging and assembly comes next.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Job opening, Furniture design program

The Windgate Center of Art+Design at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock has announced a job opening for the furniture studio instructor. There is no better way to learn than to teach, and the job comes with full access to the furniture design studio. 

My hopes are that they attract some good candidates for the tenure track position.

The woodworking studio is excellent and the job offers an opportunity to collaborate with others in art and design education. 

Make, fix and create...

Friday, October 13, 2023

beauty and meaning

A couple days ago I mentioned the concept beauty, though of course it means different things to different people, which is why they say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." It is truly a vague concept. We see it when we see it, but what we see has a great deal to do with different predispositions to identify it.

Perhaps, more important than beauty for most artists and craftspeople is the pursuit of meaning and the sharing of it when we find it, and that, too, is highly personal.

In the shop today, I've begun sanding and routing boxes, in preparation for applying a first coat of Danish oil finish sometime tomorrow.

The past few days, I heard from two woodworkers, each independently tackling the most challenging project from my book, Tiny Boxes. The project is to make Japanese type puzzle boxes. They are not easy, and they call to mind a quote from Otto Salomon, that the value the carpenter's work is in the things the carpenter makes. The value of the student's work is in the student. And if that's the case, what are those values?

A few years ago, Jack Grube, a shop teacher in New Hampshire and I worked on a piece to be sent to school administrators all across New England by the New England Association of Woodworking Teachers. We came up with 21 reasons for the 21st Century, and summarized at the top: 

A quality woodworking program provides experiences far more important than those typically associated with woodshop. Courses, like woodworking, where students use their hands build confidence, strength of character, and problem solving capabilities useful in all careers and in every educational experience. Furthermore, working with a natural material in a creative manner assists students in connecting the relevance of other subject material to their daily lives.

Put even more simply, woodworking can be an avenue through which some of us find meaning. And those of us who find meaning in it know that you might also. Just one of the illustrations for the Japanese puzzle box is shown in this post.

Make, fix and create....

Thursday, October 12, 2023

kids need a break for learning.

This OpEd in the New York Times spells out clearly why shop classes and home economics are still of value in American education.To Prepare Kids for the Future, Bring Back Shop and Home Ec 

As I usually state:

Make, fix and create...

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Useful Beauty


I live in an arts community, where so many of us are focused on beauty, (and attempting to sell our representations of it)  and yet I think that part of the beauty in things lies in their usefulness. 

Beauty is  a reflection of the whole thing… how it’s made, the motivation of the maker, the responsible use of materials in the making, reflecting how it will serve in the simple practicalities of life, as well as  the ability to recycle or repurpose at end life. I find a particular value in making objects for use, not to just to be looked at, so if a few of my things have been worn out and discarded or recycled, that's a good thing.

I’m reminded of an interview years ago with Yo Yo Ma about his visit to a village in China. He described playing in the home of Chinese peasants, and as he would play the children would get on the floor and wrestle, and when he would stop, they would stop. 

That flies against the notion that music should be listened to, only as a thing of beauty might be listened to, and suggests the role of music as an essential, practical element of daily life. In that line of thought, a painting that simply lays on the wall, being noticed only once in a while, may serve in various ways, but consider how much more precious an artist's time might have been applied in making something that more deeply fulfilled various purposes in daily life… even if the result was that it was used up, worn out, recycled or turned to kindling to warm the children at night.

The photo shows a practical application of the mitered finger joint, in allowing the top edge of a box to be inlaid before the joints are cut. The finger joints assure that the box will maintain its strength and integrity for generations, while the inlay along the top edge offers a touch more beauty.

Make, fix and create....

Thursday, October 05, 2023

the suddenness of decisiveness...

Tomorrow I'll head to Worcester, MA to meet my grand daughter Sylvie for the first time. In the shop today I've finished assembling blocks of inlay, so I can inlay box lids when I return.

Have you ever wondered how decisions are made, and how necessary change begins to take place? I've been watching the news and the complete chaos in the House of Representatives. I called my congressman this morning to express my concerns that our representatives need to awaken to the necessity of  working together, for the benefit of all. 

Philosopher William James shared some wisdom on the subject in his 1890 book, Principles of Psychology, as follows: 

"We know what it is to get out of bed on a freezing morning in a room without a fire, and how the very vital principle within us protests against the ordeal. Probably most persons have lain on certain mornings for an hour at a time unable to brace themselves to the resolve. We think how late we shall be, how the duties of the day will suffer; we say, “I must get up, this is ignominious,” etc.; but still the warm couch feels too delicious, the cold outside too cruel, and resolution faints away and postpones itself again and again just as it seemed on the verge of bursting the resistance and passing over into the decisive act. Now how do we ever get up under such circumstances?

"If I may generalize from my own experience, we more often than not get up without any struggle or decision at all. We suddenly find that we have got up. A fortunate lapse of consciousness occurs; we forget both the warmth and the cold; we fall into some revery connected with the day’s life, in the course of which the idea flashes across us, “Hollo! I must lie here no longer” – an idea which at that lucky instant awakens no contradictory or paralyzing suggestions, and consequently produces immediately its appropriate motor effects. It was our acute consciousness of both the warmth and the cold during the period of struggle, which paralyzed our activity then and kept our idea of rising in the condition of wish and not of will. The moment these inhibitory ideas ceased, the original idea exerted its effects."

There can be a suddenness to decisiveness, just as James describes. That gives me hope... In the meantime, call your Republican representative if you have one, and offer the nagging sound of alarm. Pass the budget, you must demand, one that the Senate can also approve, and support Ukraine in its never ending hour of need.

Make, fix and create...

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Play with blocks

Today in the wood shop I'll be making inlay for boxes using a variety of Arkansas hardwoods. The process starts with play with blocks, carefully cutting them to uniform size and arranging them in a pattern  of alternating colors and species that can then be glued into a long block. The woods used here are ash, sassafras, cherry, maple and walnut.

This is to prepare for making inlaid box lids.

Make, fix and create..

Monday, October 02, 2023

ginormous blocks

My article about making big Froebel blocks for the Clear Spring School campus is going to appear in the next issue of Make Magazine. In addition to plans for making the blocks, discussion of their history and use, and great photos of CSS kids at play, the article presents links for extra reading, including this one from about the effects of Froebel's kindergarten on the arts. The link is here:

The article in 99%invisible is a good introduction to what Kindergarten once was.And as I point out in my own article, history is important for two reasons. One is to avoid tragic circumstances from the past. The other is the possibility of restoring those very good things that most have forgotten. Froebel's kindergarten is from the latter category.

Make, fix and create. 

Sunday, October 01, 2023

Baby watch

We're on baby watch with our first grandchild coming in just a few days or less. When the stress level goes up, and in order to keep active and unworried about a thing, I resort to my manufacturing mode. I turn my attention toward the well-practiced, tried and true making of inlaid boxes. 

Years ago, I imagined myself making inlaid boxes into my 80's and here I am, turning 75 next month. I still have some productive years to go so I'll extend my imagining of continued box making into my 90's. By then I'll be old and cute and folks will clamor, "Make one for me, please!"

 I've made thousands of these boxes in batches of about 50 or  so at a time, and the fact that I have orders and holes in my inventory, means that the world still has room for more.

The photo shows various parts ready to begin assembly. Before that happens, I'll need to make and inlay the lids.

Make, fix and create...