Asthetics is a Responsibility

Here’s a typical (although made up…sorta) thread that occurs like clockwork after we introduce a new tool;

–I just saw the new gadget from Bridge City and at $100 NO THANKS! -Woodboy

–two too many zero’s for me. –Frugal Farms Woodworking

–Yeah, I can buy a whole lot of tools on eBay for that price. -Cellulose guy

–You don’t need to spend any money on any tool. Just get old leaf springs from the dump and pound away! –Herc

–$100 bucks and NO MOTOR? You have got to be kidding me. -Angus

–I saw the BCTW 6″ rule for $14.95 and said, SCREW THAT! I had a six-inch ruler tattooed on my right index finger for 8 bucks! –Darryl

–Hey Darryl, is it still a 6″ ruler? :)Dante

–No, it’s now around 3-7/8″ long and still works–the rule from BCTW would have wrecked the blade and trashed the rule.–Darryl

…OK, you get my drift. These samples, and all their inbred cousins have their place in the free speech that nobody wants to read department but worse yet, they completely miss the point. And if this post makes you angry, then we are getting somewhere. (Progress is born from unsettled minds)

You are likely not a tool designer but I am. You likely make furniture or other wooden objects and if one is to believe the values that froth from the keyboards in today’s forums, you should never, EVER, entertain the thought of expressing yourself through your work–it just needs to work. Cinder block and 2 x 12 bookshelves anyone?

Think about it–the only thing that really matters (with function being a given) is your voice, your shapes, your forms, your decisions, and if done well, YOUR WORK has a chance of outliving you. This is an important responsibility and it is a big one if you believe that objects should be worthy of the space they occupy.

You are also likely to be a self-taught woodworker and have found yourself swimming in a sea of uncertainty regarding design, proportion, harmony, negative space and a host of other brain-eating words that prevent you from realizing your full potential.

The decisions required to create work with a meaningful voice involve a subject matter much deeper than woodworking techniques and it is tough to do this well on your own. Design is complex, deep, unbelievably rich and essential to serious woodworkers. So, what to do?

Read. Study the work of others. Attend JURIED gallery shows, and when possible, take classes.

And speaking of classes, there is still time to sign up for the Woodworking in America Conference on Furniture Design/Construction. The dates are August 14-16 and the location is right outside Chicago/O’Hare.

There is no way you can attend a function this intense and not get a major, vector changing bang for your buck. The folks at Popular Woodworking are a dedicated, hardworking bunch of woodworking freaks and they put on a great conference–I attended the first one and saw first hand how much fun everybody was having. If it were not coinciding with my class reunion I would be there. (If you are guessing which reunion I will disclose there is only one trailing zero…)

So, in closing, what do you think of this idea–if one is going to post negative things about the work of others on an internet forum, each poster must also include a picture of their work? And if the work being bantered around is from Bridge City it is compulsory to send a direct email to

If this were law, there would be design seminars weekly in this country.

Oh, one more thing–I never would say such inflammatory things if I did not care.