Great Woodshops: College of the Redwoods

Krenov’s woodworking school turns silver as the rest of us go gray.
By Robert W. Lang
Pages: 70-72

From the August 2007 issue #163
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One of the problems of getting older is the realization that events that seem recent actually happened decades ago. A conversation with a co-worker about movies or music comes to an abrupt halt as I realize they probably weren’t listening to Buffalo Springfield or watching “Little Big Man” when they were three. The 25th anniversary of the Fine Woodworking Program at the College of the Redwoods fits neatly into this category for me.

Like many woodworkers who came of age in the 1970s, there are a handful of older craftsmen who influenced and inspired me. Sam Maloof, Art Carpenter and James Krenov were people doing what I wanted to do. They had been doing it well for quite a while by the time I became aware of their work. Hunger for information about this kind of craftsmanship led me to Krenov’s books: “A Cabinetmaker’s Notebook,” “The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking” and “The Impractical Cabinetmaker” (all published by Linden).

These were the first woodworking books I read that went beyond the meat and potatoes of building furniture and discussed the philosophy and emotion involved. Where Ernest Joyce’s “Encyclopedia of Furnituremaking” discussed the craft in dry detail, Krenov wrote about developing relationships with pieces of wood and tools in a philosophical, almost poetic way. He managed to tap into the unknown stuff deep inside that makes working with wood a basic need for many of us.

From the August 2007 issue #163
Buy this issue now