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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place! These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...
This video, with a much higher production value, tells the story of Eric and what he has done with his life, and how he is changing the future.
Eric, George and I are all from the same generation. They are my brothers.
This film should inspire you!
Blue Ox Woodworks
It reminds me of an English TV show many years ago, titled "Hands" which, unfortunately, is no longer being produced. "Made by Hand," "Handwork," "Handmade,"and other similar terms are used so often that they lose their significance. Seeing a person's hands at work on a skill or trade that takes years to master reinforces the true meaning of these terms, and you instinctively stop and reflect on the process which experience makes look easy.
Here is the video: Hand Made Shoes
As I listened to George relate his story, I was struck by how direct and realistic his evaluation of his life's work was. In particular, his remark that he can't find a worker with a "good work ethic" to pass his knowledge on to, is exactly the same thing I have said over the years. I began to reflect on how many specific trades will become extinct during the next decades, simply because people like George get old and the business dies with them.
Obviously, from a strictly economic sense, it is fine to have shoes made in China where people are paid pennies a day to make shoes for the masses. There are a lot of people in the world who need shoes, and I suspect that cheap shoes provide a necessary good. But at what cost, really?
I was born 65 years ago. I remember the introduction of television. I remember the rise of the middle class and watched, in confusion, as Reagan introduced changes that began to attack the middle class and allow the rise of the super rich. I look at the situation now and am dismayed at the condition of the middle class and how the poor unemployed members of our society are attacked for being "lazy."
Well, where are the jobs? Where are the productive and rewarding jobs that you could count on to provide work during the post war years? Jobs like the steel industry, lumber industry, making cars or houses, even making shoes? Without jobs there are no consumers, except at the WalMart price point.
For example, I remember in 1967 I was in college, working 20 hours a week in the Physics department and carrying a full load of classes at UCSD. I was paid $2.67/hour, which was a dollar more than the minimum wage, so I was doing well. Tuition was affordable, books were expensive but I watched my budget, and lived on campus. The next year, I was looking for a small house to purchase, and found one in a good neighborhood for $8,500. I needed my father to cosign the loan, since I was young and had no credit history.
He refused to sign, as he thought the house was too much for me to afford. "Your payments are going to be $85 a month! How do you expect to pay that?" he demanded.
Well, during those days, even on a low wage, you could earn enough in a month to make a car payment with one week's income, a house payment with the second week's income, buy food and clothing with the third week's income, and the last week became "discretionary" spending for entertainment or saving.
That is what the middle class lifestyle was like before Reagan. (I should note that it was not just Reagan who led this attack on middle class. It has been a long, sustained attack by those on the right who, for reasons I cannot imagine (except greed) have been successful over the past 30 years.) The Democrats have either stood by while this happened, or actually helped in the process. There is plenty of blame to go around for both sides. I mean, Clinton signed NAFTA and repealed the Glass-Steagall act, setting the stage for the banks to gamble with our hard earned savings.
Doesn't anyone remember Henry Ford, one of the captains of industry, who famously said, "Workers need to make enough money to buy my cars." (I am paraphrasing here. The actual quote is:
"There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: make the best quality goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.")
I heard that if WalMart simply raised the cost of a package of its tube socks by a few pennies, they would be able to afford health care for all their workers.
Henry Ford was not worried about shareholders and corporate profits. He was worried that his workers would have productive jobs and be able to afford to consume his goods. How times and priorities have changed in a century.
In any event, watching George go about making shoes, and listening to him talk about his future made me think, long and hard about my life. I am doing the same thing, and the results will probably be the same for me. My business will be liquidated, the tools sold, the wood thrown out, and the knowledge lost, except for what I can post on this blog. That is why I am compelled to contribute whatever I can to help those who might be interested in keeping this profession alive.
Bottom line: We all need shoes. We all need jobs. One and the same.
|Mr. Roubo's Book|
Today I put down my English copy of Roubo, which I have read twice, and went back to the computer to read my last post. That was when I remembered my early conversations with Christopher Schwartz about writing the Preface to the new edition. My post on "Roubo Redux" left out one of the most important events in my life as it related to Mr. Roubo. So I went back to my email conversation and pulled up these photos to share.
|I Love Libraries|
|Title Page with Inscription|
"A Camille Pouplin affectueux souvenir de la petite fille de Roubo. Adele Margolle"
Handwritten in ink was the dedication: "To Camille Poupin friendly souvenir from the grand daughter of Roubo. Adele Margolle."
|Roubo's Grand Daughter's hand|
Not only was this particular copy of Roubo's work directly from the family but it is entirely possible that it was a copy that Mr. Roubo himself owned! I imagined his hands turning the pages exactly as I was doing. It struck me that I was sitting in a French school, named after the greatest cabinetmaker of France, reading a book written by one of the most famous authors of the trade.
It just doesn't get any more real than that.
How could I have not included this little story in my post?
|Patrice and Agnes Reading Roubo in French|
His response was rather cold. He seemed to think that it was only possible to understand the mysteries of Roubo by understanding both the French language of the 18th century and the specific French history of the woodworking methods shown.
I was left with a feeling of frustration, knowing that a book of knowledge about a trade I cared very much about was not accessible to me.
20 years later, when I was attending school in Paris, I would divide my spending money between veneers at Patrick George and books at the Librairie d'Ameublement, which specialized in books about woodworking and the trades. I bought books in French, German, Italian and English, and my bags were always at the limit. Of course, Air France back then allowed me two checked bags (30kg each) and a carry on (no weight limit!). And they provided a great meal inflight. Those were the days...
Anyway, each time I returned to Paris, I would rush over to the bookstore and ask what was new. The owner remembered me and my tastes, and would direct me to exactly the books I needed. In one section of the store was the Roubo, which was very large and very expensive. And in French.
Each visit, I would ask the same question: "When will it be available in English?" Always the same answer, "Probably never, since there is no demand for it by English speaking people."
I eventually was able to acquire a wonderful full size edition (in French) which was printed in 1975. That date is ironic, since it was the same time I first heard of Roubo. However, I only received this edition, which included all four volumes, just last year. My partner, Patrice, was much more helpful in translating the work, and my understanding of French has improved over the years.
Nearly 20 years after I finished my studies in Paris a team lead by Don Williams and Christopher Schwartz managed to complete the project. Last Saturday, after I finished teaching a class in French Polishing at MASW, I got into my car and drove (at a high rate of speed) down 74 from Indianapolis to Cincinnati. I was in a rush to get to the last hours of the Woodworking In America trade show to visit Christopher and Don, as well as many other friends and professionals in the wood industry.
I was also there to pick up my copy of Roubo in English. For the first time in over two centuries people who don't read French can now enjoy the wonderful insight and information which Roubo captured in this important work. Lost Art Press had printed a limited edition of large format books which sold out immediately and will not be reprinted. However, for the rest of us, where the book may end up on the workbench as a "working" copy, Chris has printed a smaller hardcover edition.
That edition is very reasonably priced and available here: Lost Art Press: Roubo
You cannot imagine my excitement to finally be able to read, in English, the information which had so long eluded me. Chris and Don and the team deserve the MacArthur award for genius for their efforts.
I was also honored to be able to contribute the Preface to this historic edition, along with my friend and business partner, Patrice Lejeune.
Life is full of amazing surprises!
|The New School of French Marquetry|
In fact, there is only one school in Europe where students can get instruction and practice using these tools. That school is ecole Boulle, in Paris. Even in that school the chevalet is part of a curriculum which includes Colombo Filippetti jig saws and other cutting tools to make marquetry.
When I was there as a student some 20 years ago, Dr. Pierre Ramond taught a rather strict traditional approach to making marquetry which focused on the chevalet. There were 12 such tools in the class and a similar number of students, working diligently every day to design, cut out and assemble real masterpieces of art in wood. The new professor at that school has a new building and encourages a diverse mix of traditional and modern methods to create the work.
In 2000, when Pierre retired, I asked him and received his permission to create my own school in San Diego, where I endeavored to continue his work, using many of his exercises and methods. I built 7 chevalets and created a simple introductory program for students which would allow them to experience the amazing properties of this tool. That program has been a great success and I have had hundreds of students, of all ages and skill levels, over the years. Every one of them is delighted to have the chance to use this tool, and many of them have followed up by building one for their own use.
During the past several years, Marc Adams and I have had phone and email conversations about me teaching at his school. Although I had never visited his school, I had had many students here at ASFM who also were graduates MASW, and they encouraged me to go.
The biggest problem is that the chevalet is a large tool and cannot easily be transported, so it would be necessary for Marc to build a chevalet for each of his students who wanted to take a class. That means, essentially, that there was no profit motive for him to do so. It is to his credit that he decided to proceed, and the only motive I can suggest is that he really loves woodworking and his desire to create the best and most diverse woodworking school in the country is sincere.
At any rate, Marc built 8 chevalets this summer, and I agreed to fly out and teach a class. I was impressed and amazed at the facilities and quality of instruction which I discovered when I arrived. I had no idea how complex and professional the facilities were. He is celebrating 20 years of classes and it shows. The walls are covered with student's work and souvenirs of past instructors, many of whom I know and admire. On top of it all, it was spotless. Imagine all the woodworking machinery and activities running continuously and not a spec of dust anywhere.
|First Class at Marc Adams|
|Cleaning Up the Marquetry on Friday|
I had suggest that Marc build his chevalets in several different sizes, but he chose to build them all the same size, which was 61 cm. This size tool is fine for a person who is over 6 feet but one of my students was only 5 feet tall, and that presented a problem. I have different size chevalets here in my school, and it makes it easy to fit the student to the tool. The solution we came up with at MASW was to make a second seat blank and use wood spacers to raise the seat. This required raising the foot pedal an equal amount with a block of wood, and allowed the shorter students to easily work the larger tools.
|Adjustable Seat Height|