15 February, 2013

Just Build Stuff

I promise I won't be too long with this post.  I just read this blog post from Popular Woodworking Magazine.


A version of a traditional tool chest made from plywood and screws instead of the traditional wood and dovetails.  A comment from a gentleman named Kenny got me a bit riled up.  Kenny wrote "Looks like a comparison of fine woodworking and Ikea. A keepsake and a throwaway. I guess to each their own."  Maybe I'm not reading it as he intended it to be read, but my first thought was "Jeez, man, don't scrape your nose on the ceiling."  Firstly, I found the Ikea crack to be uncalled for.  If Ikea sold tool chests (which makes me laugh just thinking about it) they would be made out of the same laminated particle board they use to make everything.  A homemade tool chest, even a tool chest out made out of boring 'ol birch plywood, is still going to be better than a store-bought tool chest.  It's effectively someone flipping the bird to corporations.  I don't care what someone builds their stuff from as long as they're building stuff.  Anyone looking down on the plywood and screws crowd is missing the point.  It's all a matter of context.  For example, if I had wanted to build a tool chest five years ago, it would have been plywood, screws and rabbets because I couldn't make a dovetail to save my soul.  I hadn't the skills, nor the tools, to make a dovetailed tool chest out of solid wood.  I have both the skills and tools now, but is a traditionally built chest worth the effort for a hobbyist such as myself?  I don't think so.  I got over my snobbery period a long time ago.  A friend had me over to his house one day to show me the sliding pantry shelves he made.  I saw the chop saw and Kreg jig he used to build them and thought "Oh God, a Kreg jig?  Really?"  I corrected myself immediately by reminding myself that my friend had needed something then went out and made it with what he had available.  That's awesome!  I can appreciate the woodworker who wants to use walnut and blacksmith made hardware to build something with only hand tools.  If they have the budget, resources and time to do it that way, do it.  Just don't be a snob about it.  Some woodworkers have a family to attend to.  Don't look down on the guy for using screws and power tools if that's all he has.  I commend Christopher Schwarz for taking all woodworkers into consideration.  He prefers traditional methods, but is wise enough to realize that not everyone can use traditional methods.  He knows the goal is to get people building their own stuff.  That's why I continue to support him, his company (Lost Art Press) and also Popular Woodworking Magazine.  So, if you're a woodworker and one day someone proudly shows you the bookshelves they made with particle board and L brackets, don't diss them.  Say something like "Good job!  Let's go out to the garage and I'll show you a little trick for the next one."  Then teach them something.  Don't forget, you were a noob once too.

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