I love to look at websites of woodworkers – amateurs and professionals – and see photos of their work. But when they describe their work using the following words, I think:
This person is a pompous wee-wee head with a fake underbite and who walks like they are carrying a corncob without using their hands.
You might disagree – that’s what the comments are for. But here is my list of dumb words that are overused on the websites of furniture makers.
Atelier: It’s a fancy French word for “studio” or “workshop.” Don’t try to teach your customers how to speak another language unless you are a language instructor. I love the French language. It’s gorgeous. Ham-mouthed Americans should keep their gums off it.
Artisanal: I knew this word was done for when I saw it being used thusly: Artisanal Urinal Cakes. It doesn’t mean anything, except that you posit yourself a fancy lad.
Bespoke: An old word, usually used in tailoring, that is sadly on the rise. It’s somehow worse than “artisanal,” like you got a PhD from the Fancy Lad Academy & Atelier.
Curated: Gag. Just gag me with a bespoke spoon. If you don’t work for a museum, you don’t curate squat.
Upcycled: This means you build stuff out of garbage.
Purveyors: This means you do something better than “selling.” Perhaps to “purvey” means your store’s receipts and shipping boxes are festooned with ruffles? Or you work in the shop with a powdered wig? Or you call to your customers: “Perchance mayest I help you?”
Boutique: (see atelier) You are not qualified to use French.
Master: If you use this word to describe yourself, and you don’t have a certificate that explains your qualifications, then you aren’t a master. You are a wiener. “Master” is a real word that has been made meaningless by self-important fancy boys.
Award-winning: I’ve been on tons of panels that hand out furniture and writing awards, and I know these are stupid. Let your work speak for itself. Getting an “award” means you paid a fee to have other people applaud your prompt fee-payment.
Artist in Wood: You build stuff. Let others decide if it’s art.
Hand-selected, hand-whatever, handmade, handcrafted: These words are unnecessary. Do you build stuff with your feet? Your elbows? Until our robot overlords run the Ikea MDF slave factories, all furniture is made with the assistance of hands. If you don’t use electrical tools in your work, you probably should find a different way to describe what you do.
Giving your pieces obscure names: If you call one of your chairs: “Inchon and the Fox Philanderers, No. 12,” then maybe you are qualified to teach at the Fancy Lad Academy and Bespoke Charcuterie Boutique.
— Christopher Schwarz
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