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Charles Hayward, the dean of woodworking writers, once wrote a column about the continued industrialization of the woodworking craft. All hand work was being set aside and forgotten. People who were once craftsmen were become machine minders.

In the end, Hayward noted, it will be only the engineers who will ever find real joy in work.

So I kid the engineers. Whenever I begin a class I ask all the engineers (and retired engineers) to raise their hands. I have had classes where 80 percent of the students are engineers. A typical class is about 40 to 50 percent engineers.

I warn the engineers that if they use a micrometer during the class I will go all Sister Slobenitz on their knuckles with a Stanley folding rule.

I mess with their heads when I insist that they make 3 micron-thick shavings with their handplanes. When they ask how much pressure to use when burnishing a scraper, I reply: 7.42 Newtons.

But the truth is, Hayward was right.


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