All the News That's Fit to Print - Popular Woodworking Magazine

All the News That's Fit to Print

 In Arts & Mysteries Blog, Woodworking Blogs

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A few weeks ago, heavy rains hit the mid-Atlantic States hard. My family was lucky. We escaped any damage. But my basement woodshop flooded for the first time in seven years. A small plumbing disaster years earlier convinced me of the necessity to prepare for such eventualities. My tool chest is on 2 by lumber, and I tend not to store lumber vertically. I have no cardboard boxes on the floor. The storm provided me with the opportunity to thoroughly clean my shop. I was struck by how generally clean it was before the flood. Though I try to keep my work area clean for my articles, working by hand just seems cleaner than working with machines. It’s just another nice aspect of working wood by hand.

Pennsbury Manor’s annual sheep shearing day was a beautiful day for 2,500 local grammar-school kids. I cut a few mouldings by eye using what hollows and rounds we had that were sharp enough to use, while my fellow joiners, Gene and Dave, described early 18th-century woodworking and fielded questions. Shortly after this picture was taken, a little girl and her friends wanted to know about my clothes. They had excellent questions. Where did they get the cloth? How did they make things red? Could they make pink?

I guess folks enjoy complaining about “kids these days,” but I find them intelligent and curious and always well behaved. After answering the little girl’s questions to the best of my ability, she had one more question that made my day: “Is the reason they all wore wigs because they were all bald like you?” Now you can’t laugh at a child who asks such a question, so I needed a second to compose myself. In that second I realized she was mostly correct. Louis XIV started the wig craze when he went bald. See what I mean about how smart kids are?

If you get the opportunity to share your woodworking with kids, take it.


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Showing 6 comments
  • Adam

    Thanks everybody for the kind words and concern. Nice to hear from you, Herb. Wish I could come to see you. Let me know if you do any other of these events. Ping me offline if you need anything or if there’s anything I can do to help.


  • Herb Lapp

    Hi Adam,

    It’s Herb from the Old Tools listserv days. I purchased some bees wax from you and still have & use it. Congrats on the articles it’s one of the primary reasons why I continue my subscription to the magazine. I’m reproducing a chair and doing a July 4th demonstration and interpretation at Philadelphia’s Carpenters’ Hall like you do at Pennsbury. Where did you obtain your colonial clothing that the kids asked you questions about?

    My love for using hand tools lead me naturally to Windsor chairs. Up to about 30 built and have carefully studied more than 200 around the Delaware Valley. Some articles and books on what I’ve discovered will be in the works real soon.

    Best Wishes,


  • James Mittlefehldt

    Adam I am glad that nothing too serous resulted from your flood, though even that would doubtless have seemed devastating at the time I am sure. I am one of those I think who commeneted earlier and my commnet failed to materialize.

    As to the children, I have always made apoint of talking to children, not down to them, even my 4 month old grandson. This often illicits odd looks from him but he pays attention.

    I just wanted to say that I am enjoying this column and the one on PW as well, thank heavens for the internet. I continue to make discoveries as I go often as not inspired by somethineg you mention in your writings. Carry on and hopefully you won’t get flooded again anytime soon.

    Thanks again.


  • Jeff S.

    The logical follow up question regarding the wig is "Why were those wigs always grey, even if the man was in his thirties or forties?" 🙂

    Glad to hear that you faired well amidst the storms. You have flooding and here in KY, we have drought. And speaking of dust…. that was one of my early motivations to shift to hand tools….though I guess even in the pre-industrial age one must still be careful about walnut. Wasn’t Anthony Hay believed to have died of cancer of the lip and face due to Walnut dust?

  • Roderick Drumgoole

    Hi Adam,

    Glad to see you back! Further, I am glad to hear that you and your family were spared any great calamities during the heavy rains that we experienced a few weeks back.

    Just in case you don’t hear it enough, I appreciate you writing in PopWood and maintaining this website. It is truly an inspiration to learn from you as I attempt to work wood with hand tools only as well. As you know, there just aren’t many folks willing to work wood this way; so when looking through the various mags, after your article, my interest begins to fall quickly as the rest are utilizing the electrons.

    Again, thanks for taking the time to do what you do in view of having a family and working full time at different work.

    All the best,


  • BE

    Great post Adam,

    I am sorry to hear about the flood. You were lucky but still, it must be quite a shock and a hard day to see your shop flooded.

    It is a fantastic account that you gave us here with your interaction with children. Sharing with them about history, heritage and the ways our grandfathers and grandmothers lived and thought is so important. I have come to think as my own studies in woodworking as something to share with my son so that we could explore together. He will bring his fresh mind untainted by the delusions of being a grown up and living under the assumptions that we know so many things. Through their questions, they are testing their own hypothesis and views on the world, I think the way we receive these inquiries may have a great impact on them. Eager young minds should never be ignored!

    Great story Adam, I love it!

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