Skip to main content

Lacking the basics

I came across an interesting question the other day. The poster said he had no woodworking experience but wanted suggestions about what tools were needed to build a project he had in mind.

Replies were numerous and offered with an obvious intent to be helpful. Suggestions included a table saw and band saw, routers, jointers and many other tools commonly found in even the most basic woodshop.

The thing that gave me pause was the total lack of any mention of basic woodworking tools, such as hand saws and planes, or anything to do with sharpening. It also wasn’t suggested that the poster try to find a shop or school where they could learn some basic woodworking skills before investing in a lot of power tools.

We are sorely lacking in the basic skills. A woodworker who knows how to shove a board through a table saw but has no idea of how to square an edge with a properly tuned and sharpened hand plane is going to be severely limited in what they can accomplish.

Related Articles

Basic skills

In my junior high shop class, the instructor insisted that we begin by planing the edge of a board. The edge had to be straight and square. I spent most of the semester trying to accomplish this.

Back to the basics

It is amazing how many people engage in an undertaking without first acquiring the basic skills needed to succeed.

Back to basics

Technology has been creeping into how we do business for a long time now. Obviously, CNC machines have taken on an increasing role in cutting, milling, shaping, carving, etc. And hand-held tools like routers and sanders are a lot smarter than used to be.

Do we still need basic skills?

These days, a prospective employee is more likely to be asked about his knowledge of computers than about how well he can produce a smooth surface with a hand plane.

Defining art and craft

I recently came across the following definitions that attempt to differentiate art and craft.

Who’s right?

It is often said that the customer is always right. Obviously, this is suggesting that the customer should always be accommodated in whatever he or she wants. And, to some extent this is a good policy. It can often lead to a very happy and satisfied customer. But not always.

It’s easy

Johnny Shines played the blues. He was good and he knew it. At one performance, he began a song with a causally played rif of great complexity, then paused, smiled at the audience and said “It’s easy, if ya know how.”