As managing editor, one of my duties is to pull together the “Letters” column for each issue, so please send in your questions or comments for me, the other editors or even for magazine contributors. We’ll do our best to provide answers as soon as we can. As I worked on the upcoming August issue, … Read more
Tag Archives: End Grain
Most of us share this pathological habit that’s hard to break.
By Peter Franks
I have a problem. A compulsion, really. It’s not as serious as, say, alcoholism, a food addiction or an unhealthy fascination with Megan Fox. But it’s a problem.
Fortunately, most people are too polite to point it out. Or they don’t even notice. But I do. And it’s bad. If I were a professional woodworker, it’s the sort of thing that could lose me customers.
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Thoughts on woodworking and the art of growing up with Zen.
By Wilbur Pan
Because I’m of Chinese descent, it’s probably not a surprise that I found myself drawn to Japanese tools when I started woodworking, and that I wanted to learn how they worked and how they were used. At first this was frustrating. Part of the issue was that I don’t speak or read Japanese at all. But a bigger hurdle for me was that many of the sources I found spent a lot of time talking about the Zen of using Japanese tools, and there was much talk about how this method of woodworking was shrouded by Eastern mysticism and philosophy.
I found it curious that there was so much talk about Zen and Japanese woodworking. After all, articles about 18th-century woodworking seem to avoid (for the most part) discussing Voltaire, Locke and Goethe. The thing is, despite the obvious interest of others in the Asian worldview and how it impacted the use of these tools, I wasn’t interested in that aspect of Japanese woodworking at all. I just wanted to learn how Japanese tools worked, and my feeling was that despite the obvious differences between Japanese and Western woodworking tools, at the end of the day it all came down to sharp pieces of steel cutting through wood – and that was the level of understanding that I was trying to get to.
Imperfect woodworking often imparts the best lessons.
By Scot O’Shea
A good friend asked me if I could help his son put together a chair he wanted to make and like a good neighbor, I said, “Sure, I will be happy to look at it and offer a little advice.” That was two years ago and we are still happily learning a few things each week about woodworking.
You may have noticed I said “we” – and it is true. We began with six cedar trees that my young friend had chopped down and stripped of bark. He had no real tools and even less knowledge about how to construct a chair. He did come with lots of ideas and opinions. I am surprised when I look back that the two of us not only survived but managed to construct Justin’s chair.
First, thank you for the many fine articles you sent in for our End Grain contest – I had the pleasure of reading more than 250 funny, poignant and/or philosophical tales of woodworking. And while I enjoyed every one of them, it did make for a difficult job in selecting winners. I read each entry … Read more
Dreams of rock stardom lead to life in luthiery.
by Erick T. Gatcomb
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The allure of woodworking is a hell of a thing. As a teenager determined to break the family cycle – everyone, male or female, was/is a carpenter – I loathed hearing about 2x4s and pressure-treated lumber. The thought of spending a life pounding nails was comparable to a life in purgatory, which never seems very promising, particularly to an adolescent. The old man would tell me, “One day all these tools will be yours.” And I would struggle to stifle a groan. After all, what purpose would those woodworking tools serve to a world-famous rock star?
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We’re looking for a handful of amusing and/or thought-provoking articles for our End Grain feature (the last editorial page in every issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine). So, we’re running a contest. The writer of the best submission (in the editors’ collective opinion) will not only get paid for the article ($250, plus $75 for an … Read more