The Woodworking Joint Used in the Arms of Ming Dynasty Chairs…

"With but a few exceptions, we don't have this personal study under masters any more. Craftsmanship has sunk very low. We no longer have any universally creative persons who are able to guide young learners not only in technical matters but also, at the same time, in a formal way." — Walter Gropius

Drivel Starved Nation-

My latest trip to China was my favorite to date. When you are on an informative trip, fun is easy to find. When the weather is perfect, trips like this become magical.

The highlight for me was the gift Mr. Yang, the Hong Mu Master presented to me. It is a sample of the joinery used in his masterpiece pictured below;

As explained by Mr. Yang, his students are not allowed to build a chair until this joint is mastered;

Incredibly, mastering this joint can take up to a year. The rosewood supply he has is finite, so there is no tolerance for waste when it comes time to make a chair. And because there is no finish, the joints need to be perfect to become invisible. It truly is an amazing display of craftsmanship. The joint itself (I wish I would have asked if it had a name) is a thousand years old I am told.

Here is a short video by Academy Award Winning Cinematographer Wanna Be Consuelo;

Each chair arm has 6-8 of these joints. They are incredibly strong and could be completely functional without adhesive… they are that strong.

Pretty cool yes/no?

-John

Bridge City China Trip and Charlie Manson…

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them”— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Drivel Starved Nation!

After spending three weeks in China, my jet lag back here in Oregon is something else. I must be getting really old…

The day before I departed back to the States, my Chinese business associate Jack and his daughter Jessica accompanied me to Beijing for a special dinner.

It’s not a big secret that I am an Iowa son, born and raised until my graduation from Iowa State when I headed off to my teaching job in Oregon. Wow, that was 45 years ago! Ouch.

While living in Ames, I would occasionally get my hair cut–about once every three years. (I liked being a hippie where I learned that you could accomplish so much more in a day if you skipped bathing.) The place I frequented was called the Head Shop and it was owned by Al Thompson who was my barber. We have remained friends all these years and whenever he FaceTimes me he tells me my hair looks like it was cut with a Weed Eater… Continue reading

Bridge City Field Trip Report #4: The Hong Mu Arts Museum Tour

"The human soul is hungry for beauty; we seek it everywhere - in landscape, music, art, clothes, furniture, gardening, companionship, love, religion, and in ourselves. No one would desire not to be beautiful. When we experience the beautiful, there is a sense of homecoming." — John O'Donohue

Drivel Starved Nation,

This is a long post, and it is full of pics. So there DSN, lots of Drivel! (If you have slow internet, you may have to wait a bit for all the pics to download).

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Bridge City China Field Trip Report #3: Shanghai to Nanjing…

"Every man has a train of thought on which he travels when alone. The dignity and nobility of his life, as well as his happiness, depend on the direction that train is going, the baggage it is carries and the scenery through which it travels."— Joseph Fort Newton

Drivel Starved Nation;

Nothing quiets prejudice, hatred and biases more efficiently than travel. Only until one sees, smells, hears and learns from different cultures and their people can you intelligently grow as a citizen of planet Earth. Over the past 4 years, my 8-9 trips to China have been filled with wonderment, awe, disgust, dismay and joy. I thought this field trip idea would be an equally fun learning experience for Bridge City customers. And it was. Continue reading

Bridge City China Field Trip Report #2: Shanghai, the Largest City in the World…

"Tell me I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand."— Chinese Proverb

Drivel Starved Nation;

After our kick-off dinner, we all took a nice walk along the Bund which was a block or two from our hotel. Here is how it looks to my cell phone at night;

The Bund

After this spectacular view, we retired for the evening. Well not all of us… but that is another story. Continue reading

Bridge City China Field Trip Report #1: Adventures in Eating…

“The Master said, “The gentleman understands what is right, whereas the petty man understands profit.” (Analects 4.16)” — Confucius

Drivel Starved Nation-

Your favorite Tool Potentate just returned from three weeks in China. I spent a week in Guangzhou, 3 days in Shanghai, a week in Nanjing, and 3 days in Beijing.

While in Shanghai I met up with the Bridge City China field trip participants. And while in Beijing we had the privilege of a private dinner with the American ambassador of China and his wife in their private residence followed by a private tour the next day of the American embassy, the largest American embassy in the world. In short, this experience was more than any of us expected and will take multiple posts to share all that we explored.

TRIVIA #1: “Jing” means capital. “Bei” means north. “Nan” means south. Nanjing is the old capital of China and Beijing is the current capital.

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Pencil Precision Video, China Field Trip, Other Bridge City News

"My journey began with a single pencil. While traveling through India in 2006, I asked a boy begging on the streets, 'If you could have anything in the world, what would you want?' and he answered me with two words: 'A pencil.' Luckily, I had one in my pocket, and in the second it took me to give it to him, a defining dream was born." — Adam Braun

Drivel Starved Nation-

Here’s the latest news regarding your favorite Tool Potentate…

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Introducing Pencil Precision from Bridge City Tool Works

"What can a pencil do for all of us? Amazing things. It can write transcendent poetry, uplifting music, or life-changing equations; it can sketch the future, give life to untold beauty, and communicate the full-force of our love and aspirations." — Adam Braun

Drivel Starved Nation!

It’s always exciting when we have something new to share… which I suppose makes this post news. (I did that math all by myself – FYI)

Since 1983, (that’s 34 human years, but 311 tool maker years), we have been producing impeccably crafted bench tools primarily for avocational woodworkers. It’s been mostly fun, but not as fun as it could have been knowing what I know now… Continue reading

New Tool from Bridge City… Clue #6

"Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there."— Josh Billings

Drivel Starved Nation!

I know, this is hard!

This part is 210mm in length. And, it serves several purposes, one of which is in conjunction with an earlier clue…

For those of you who follow this Totally Awesome and Worthless Blog (about 4.2 billion people when I last didn’t check) you know that when we use the color red in our products, there is a reason…

-John

New Tool from Bridge City Tool Works Identified!

"What can a pencil do for all of us? Amazing things. It can write transcendent poetry, uplifting music, or life-changing equations; it can sketch the future, give life to untold beauty, and communicate the full-force of our love and aspirations." — Adam Braun

Drivel Starved Nation!

We have our two winners who identified what I have been working on over the past 7 months. Now watch it make me the laughing stock of the internet.

It’s called Pencil Perfection and here is what you can do with it;

I have some commitments that will keep me out of the office until next Monday, but when I return, I will share the story behind our winners, this project and what it means to me and hopefully you too.

-John