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Indian football shoes

When I first started making things, my material of choice was leather. I have always worked with wood but that was not my focus at first.

I made leather bags, one after another, no two ever the same. I always seemed to have another idea for the next one. But one day, I took it into my mind to make a pair of moccasins. Understanding nothing about how to make identical items, I made the left one first, start to finish. It did not look anything like I had imagined it would look, mostly because I had no plan, just an idea. Then it was time to make the second one and although I tried to remember exactly how I had done the first and do it the same way, the right shoe looked noticeably different. To make matters worse, it was not the same size either. A friend took a liking to them, dubbed them Indian football shoes, and wore them until they wore out.

Later, I learned that one must have methods and systems to produce identical items. This was my introduction into the world of production. It might be OK to never make two identical pieces of furniture. I did this for many years, calling myself an artisan woodworker and making only one-of-a-kind pieces. But this was not a good approach when I started making cabinetry and doing high-end architectural woodwork. It became necessary to produce large numbers of identical items such as doors, panels, moldings, etc.

I gradually learned about patterns and plans and templates. I learned to cut all the pieces at the same time and at the same setting, to mill pieces in batches to insure consistency, and to stain and finish everything with the same batch of material. All of the tricks needed to product a large number of identical items.

I always hoped to get back to making one-off pieces and, over the years, I did manage to work a few into the schedule. The challenges are totally different and although I always told myself that I was an artisan maker at heart, I found that I enjoyed undertaking larger projects and most of those involved a lot of production.


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