Almost every week I get a message from a woodworker who is terrified that we are the last generation of people who will build furniture in our home workshops.
I’m not nearly as apocalyptic, but I do get queasy when I hear about the shuttering of another high-school shop class. Or when I see people buying disposable furniture that might last two years. And to top things off, we all winced when Norm Abram announced he wasn’t making any new episodes of “The New Yankee Workshop.”
It does make you wonder: How will we inspire young people to take up the tools of our craft?
I think the solution is simple, something you can do now and that is free. Here it is: Start a woodworking blog that chronicles what you build and how you work.
Blogging is a painless form of writing a diary, really. Blogging requires no technical skills – if you can write an e-mail you can write a blog. And, like I said, it costs nothing to start or maintain (I recommend you visit wordpress.com to get started).
How will this inspire future generations? Easy. Everything you write about woodworking is recorded by robots that index the Internet. In other words, everything in your blog will almost certainly be preserved forever in a form that is searchable by future generations.
So when some young homeowner is searching the Internet in 100 years because he or she wants to build some bookshelves to go next to a fireplace, there will be a wealth of information waiting there. Different techniques, materials and finishes. And I think they will find not just how to build those shelves, but they will discover why they should build those shelves instead of buying them from some store that sells prefabricated termite barf.
After writing a blog for more than five years (blog.woodworking-magazine.com/blog/), I have already started seeing my prophecy come true. And I also know that the words of the past can inspire future generations. For proof, I carry the below quotation with me in my wallet.
“I think that if I did not work with wood, my life would be a hollow emptiness. If I did not form and shape and build, what would I have done to leave my mark in this world? My eyes have been filled with the endlessly changing patterns of the grains. I have felt the warmth of a thousand suns in my hands every day. I have smelled the rich, tangy odors of the freshly hewn chips. These are the things that have made my life so fine. These are the most precious things I can leave for you, my son.”
— Jonas Wainwright Master Carpenter,
from a letter to his son, 1832
If you do start a blog and keep at it, send us a note – we just might link to it and make you famous.