Seven Questions with Andrew Lunn
With Andrew Lunn’s announcement that he’s leaving the sawmaking business, the No. 1 question on all our minds is: Who will have the guts to pull a prank on Jameel Abraham from Benchcrafted at the next woodworking show?
Besides being an excellent sawmaker, Lunn is also a fan of the occasional practical joke.
Ask Abraham about the underwear that showed up inside his awesome Shaker workbench at the 2010 Woodworking in America show. Or ask him about the magnetic bumper stickers that ended up on his mini-van after a Lie-Nielsen show.
Or ask me about the time I won some “chocolate” during one of Andrew’s sawing contests.
Of course, Andrew also suffered some mighty good practical jokes, too. Like the time all the saws in his booth were replaced with dime-store junk. Or when he was told he was sharing a booth at Woodworking in America with Harbor Freight.
And on and on.
This week I caught up with Lunn and asked him a few questions about why he decided to stop making saws, and about the future. Here’s the transcript:
1. When you got into sawmaking, you mentioned to me in an e-mail that you were obsessed with making saws, all the minutia – from the history to the forgotten tools used to make them.
Well I never stopped finding those things interesting—but after a while the volume becomes such that it gets repetitive to some degree no matter what else is true. Getting tired of making the saws doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how interesting you find them—it’s got a lot more to do with how you fare making the same things over and over. My feelings about saws hasn’t changed much. I just managed to find my limit when it comes to making something. I’m much more geared toward the creative and exploratory side of things. I have other interests that I did very little with while making saws, and they were at one time on pretty equal footing with the saws. That was something that bothered me after awhile, having these other interests that were stagnating.
2. For some reason, cranks on the Internet liked to beat you up quite a bit. Did that have anything to do with your decision to step away from sawmaking?
No. It would be foolish to let something that trivial have any bearing on what you do. There will always be negative people. Saws have brought me into contact with far more kind and thoughtful people than negative ones.
3. What do your cats think about your decision?
The fastidious one has experienced a huge spike in his OCD. The other one who doesn’t groom himself, I think his motto is, “Let’s worry about it tomorrow.”
4. All told, about how many saws did you make for customers?
Man that’s a good question. All told? Around 2,000. OK, really, probably something like 120 -130. Making a lot of saws wasn’t what I was trying to do. All I really cared about was making the nicest saws I possibly could.
5. So what’s next for you? Rumor is you are working on a book on saws. Can you tell us anything about that?
Absolutely. I’m writing a book about saw making and sharpening. Hand making saws gave me a unique and intimate perspective on making them. It’s a book for anyone interested in saw making; in saw sharpening; in handle making; you name it. You can mine the book for whatever specifically interests you. I’m very excited about it and think it’s a great way to bring closure to my time as a saw maker.
6. You also mentioned once to me that you were interested in smithing and creating hardware. Any chance you’ll be making hardware or other tools for sale in the short term?
My idea from here out is to do more one-off artistic sorts of work. I don’t see myself ever offering tools again like I did the saws – I’m just not cut out for that kind of regimen. That goes for hardware too, although I might make some here and there. What I have planned right now are some elaborate projects that I subsequently sell – totally non-tool related items, like carvings and some artistic blacksmithing. I’ll be making a lot of my own tools, and yes, I may make extras here and there that I sell. But I don’t have any plans to be an actual tool maker again.
7. With your sawmaking part of your business shuttered, what’s next for you in the near future? Are you going to go back to being an EMT perhaps?
I do miss the EMS work in some ways, yes. I love those guys. I don’t have plans at the moment to go back to it, though. I think I’ve found my niche with making things and need to take it farther.
— Christopher Schwarz