The Woodworker

There’s something about working with wood which seems to be universally attractive to the average human being. It’s not just the beauty of the material itself; it’s something more than that. Is it the ease (!) with which a person can put their own stamp on a simple artefact they’ve made? Or maybe it’s the opportunity it provides us with to exercise our technical skills in a clear and potentially attractive way for all to see. For our ancestors – from ancient to fairly recent – it was often the only way to acquire necessary and useful items in a tough and unforgiving world.

Non-fatal attraction

And it’s not just woodworking either. In my travels out and about in the world of toil, I’ve been noticing an increased interest in making things of late, especially amongst younger people. All sorts of folk are rediscovering the joys and pleasures of creating and constructing, and I for one am very pleased to witness it. 

Maybe it’s a simple reaction to our mass-produced and homogenised world, a chance to simply express ourselves in a world of high-tech gadgetry controlled by computer-aided everything. Perhaps the reduced or non-existent workshop time in schools in recent years has played a part. But whatever the reason, new generations are taking up tools again and exploring the many benefits of custom-made crafts.

Make it

I participated in a ‘mini maker fair’ down my way recently and was impressed with the number of visitors who called in and took part in workshops and demonstrations of a wide range of high- and low-tech disciplines. These included all manner of electronics, 3D printing, robotics and the like, with yours truly doing what he could to fly the flag for old-school woodworking.

It was gratifying to observe the interest shown in my simple woody fare – consisting mainly of dovetail samples, tools, biscuit and Domino joints – which seemed to strike a chord with many a punter, young and old alike. One proud parent even wrote to me afterwards to tell me just how excited his smallish son had been to watch my basic demo of cutting a curve with a coping saw and planing it smooth. Apparently a block plane is now top of the youngster’s wish list!