Tomorrow, I Want to Hear that Snake Hiss - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Tomorrow, I Want to Hear that Snake Hiss

 In Chris Schwarz Blog, Chris Schwarz Woodworking Classes, Woodworking Blogs


During the first three hours of my my class on building a trestle table, here are the statements I heard the students say the most.

I cannot design.

I can’t draw.

I can’t come up with original ideas.

I will just copy an existing design.

Today is Tuesday. It’s only the second day of the class, but most of the students are finishing up the joinery on the bases of their trestle tables. Yup. They each designed a table on Monday morning and are getting ready for assembly on Tuesday evening.

It’s not that I’m a good teacher. I suck, and I know I suck, and I’m OK with that sucking. But I also know that the students are natural designers. We all are. In fact, the less we worry about “design,” the more creative the results.

So I just give them no choice. Design it. Here’s your paper. Design it.

That works wonders.

So the best part of the day was watching a 19-year-old student work on his table. It is going to be two carved cobras supporting a glass tabletop. The naysayers said he’d never get to the carving.

Dudes, he finished joining the end assemblies after lunch (sloppy joes) at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, and was roughing out one of the heads when I left at 6 p.m.

So here’s my advice: Stop typing and start chopping. You can build a cobra-headed trestle table in a week and win the hearts of every chick on your block. Promise.

— Christopher Schwarz

Recent Posts
Showing 18 comments
  • paulobro

    After 3 days one wonders:
    The snake… Did it fizz? Or did it flop?

    • pmac

      I was wondering the same thing and I believe this guy sums it up best:

    • Christopher Schwarz
      Christopher Schwarz

      He completed the snake table. The carving was about 90 percent done on Friday . The joinery was 100 percent done. It looked great.

      I don’t have photos. I was too busy teaching the students the basics of woodworking…..

  • handystanley

    I really want to attend the Marc Adams School of Woodworking one day!!!

    • Christopher Hawkins

      I’ve been lucky enough to attend three 5 day classes and one 1 day class. Each class was wonderful. Be prepared to work hard and meet some great people.

  • arturo.watson

    Well if he does fail, it won’t be for lack of clamps. Nicely appointed shop I say!

  • fltckr

    “Just as he loves the arrow that is true, so does he love the bow that is steady….” (or something like that). You are doing good works, Chris.

  • 7-Thumbs

    Hmm, just wondering where you’ve ever met chicks that would like a cobra-headed trestle table; guys yes, chicks I’m just not really sure about that one.

  • matt1979

    If he gets Destro chemically etched into the glass top, then I will be impressed.

  • UntamedLion

    What a great reminder. Can’t wait to see the final product.

  • peppersvnv

    When you’re young you haven’t yet learned that “I can’t do that.” This reminds me of the fact (myth?) that according to engineers bumble bees can’t fly. Bees are too young to have learned that. My favorite furniture styles are early American and Federalist. If those designers and the designers before them believed that “I can’t design, I can only follow” we’d all be sitting on chairs designed by Joseph of Nazareth. In a few years we’ll be reading books on furniture design by this very creative 19 year old. I congratulate him on his freedom!!

    • griffithpark

      The actual backstory on the bumble bee is a good lesson in and of itself.

      Given the laws of aerodynamics and assumptions engineers were making, bumble bees can’t fly.
      The engineers were assuming the bumble bee has a rigid airframe (exoskeleton).
      It turns out the bumble bee’s exoskeleton flexes (sp?) during flight, allowing just enough additional
      wing movement for flight to take place.

      Beware one’s assumptions: which ties perfectly to the blog as well.

  • Jim McCoy

    Excellent! If you can’t tell me I can, then don’t tell me I can’t! More power to that kid. I bet it turns out great and that class will be a highlight for the rest of his life. Great post. Thanks.

  • msiemsen

    chop like an Egyptian

    • SlashDev

      That is one big asp table

      • colibas

        Will he get cobra benefits?

        • pmac

          Wonder if he is making HISS-tory with this design.

          • Eddietheeagle

            like the puns hysssterical

Start typing and press Enter to search