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Renouncing Black Friday

Black Friday is less than two weeks away and we invite you to opt out along with us. This post-Thanksgiving “holiday”, with its legendary lines and near-riots for the last remaining big-screen TVs and game consoles, has been around a long time and is used by many businesses to fuel consumerist desires by offering steep discounts for their goods. Of course, we can’t just blame businesses for this mess; if the insatiable hunger for more stuff didn’t already exist within us, these practices would’ve never worked in the first place. Most of us are well acquainted with the dangers inherent in 21st-century commercialism and need no lecture about the damage it causes to our culture, our families, and our own...

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Chinese Firewood Carrier

Ever since Peter Follansbee wrote about the Chinese firewood carrier that Daniel O’Hagan adapted from Rudolf Hommel’s China at Work (great book), I’ve been itching to make one for myself. With the heating season now full on and my nine-year-old hauling firewood into the house most days, I decided it was time to finally knock one of these together. The Original from Hommel's Book Long time readers here might have picked up that some of my favorite historic artifacts are rural utilitarian objects made with function as a top priority. Although these items are often coarsely made, they always bear the evidence of many generations of use which testifies to the integrity of their design and construction. And, I must admit,...

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We’re Going to Need a Bigger Shop

We just spent two weeks sorting and hauling a mountain of gorgeous lumber. Mike and I were painstakingly relocating the lifetime lumber collection of Thomas Hinchcliffe (a recently-deceased local furniture maker and antique dealer) to my property. Thomas had a number of large outbuildings, all of which he filled with antique furniture and special lumber over the years so it took a long time to sort through it all. (Refer to this earlier blog post for the crazy story about how I came into this collection.) We organized the material I purchased in three categories: long and wide lumber on a low-bed trailer, small boards and furniture parts in my van, and a collection of beautiful 18th-/19th-century doors, which also...

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Regard the Life of Your Animals

This Saturday, my family processed our year’s supply of chickens. We have been raising our own broilers since we moved to Maine as a way to reconnect to our food by closing the gap between producer and consumer. But I used to be a vegetarian. Over a decade ago, I swore off all meat consumption in response to animal rights literature that focused on the inhumaneness of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. It was a life changing moment for me. Even though after some time I reluctantly began eating meat again, it was only later through reading the writings of responsible, considerate omnivores (particularly Joel Salatin) that my conscience was fully cleared. I then saw that the God of righteousness, justice,...

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“We Haven’t Got Much Time…”

Yesterday afternoon I got a phone call from a mutual friend. “Can you meet me at 6:30 tomorrow morning? We haven’t got much time… They’re coming at 9:00.” It was an opportunity I couldn’t resist. This morning before the sun came up, I grabbed my flashlight and drove over to the house and shop of a recently-deceased furniture making friend to make an offer on whatever tools and lumber I wanted before a dealer showed up to bid the entire estate. Turns out our two and a half hours barely scratched the surface of the buildings full of lumber and tools. I tried to remain level-headed as I processed what I was looking at. Long story short, I bought a...

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Enjoy Your Work

I’ve been reading a lot lately and, as a result, have been mulling over some fascinating material. My path started with Ivan Illich’s Tools for Conviviality and E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful. Digesting these two books brought me right back to where I started many years ago with William Coperthwaite’s A Handmade Life. These three books (and a few others I’m reading) overlap in several important ways – they all lay out their vision for a society that is designed around the growth and health of people as opposed to industrial development (that leads to unhealthy consumerism) and state development (that leads to the suppression of individuals, families, and communities).   In their writings, these three men also labor to correct the...

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M&T Podcast #10 - “Barriers to Woodworking”

  Our newest podcast episode titled “Barriers to Woodworking” is now live and can be listened to above. In this episode, Mike and Joshua talk with content editor, Jim McConnell, about common barriers to hand-tool woodworking. We discuss things like accessibility to tools (new and old), workable workshop space, decent lumber, wading through the sea of woodworking knowledge available, and scarcity of time to get any time in the shop. This was a rich conversation. Let us know what you think. What barriers have you come up against in your journey into hand-tool woodworking? Items Mentioned in this Episode: Brendan Gaffney’s Lumberyard Map The Tool Barn  

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The Issue Five Packing Party

The past few days, Mike and I have seen on social media that M&T Issue Five has begun arriving at customers’ mailboxes. It is always rewarding to see our readers excited to get the new issue and dive in right away. As many of you know, the fancy brown wrapping and trade card with wax seal is the effort of many enthusiastic readers and friends. Without the 20 or so people that block out their weekend to help, it would probably take Mike and me two weeks of work to wrap the thousands of copies that need to go out. This work party tradition came about from a vision to take something necessary and potentially uninspiring (wrapping and shipping magazines) and...

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Last Call for Issue Five Pre-orders!

If you are looking to pre-order Issue Five (with wrapping, trade card, and free shipping), today (Tuesday 18th) is your last opportunity. Starting Wednesday, Issue Five will be sold without the wrapping and free shipping. To get your order in on time, there are two ways to do it:  1. Subscribe for a year (2 issues) 2. Order Issue Five individually  We will begin shipping Issue Five this weekend and expect that you will see your copy in your mailbox during the first week of October. - Joshua  

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Boring Large Holes for a Leg Vise by Hand

Yesterday I decided to install the leg vise on one of our 12′ Nicholson benches and was faced with boring a 2-1/2″ hole through the 4″ leg for the large wooden screw. A 2-1/2″ t-handled auger would make quick work of that but the problem is that I don’t have one that exact size. Rather than make a run to the hardware store to buy a hole saw for an electric driver, I went after it with meat-power. I started boring with a freshly-sharpened expansion bit, which breezed through the white pine side board. But once the bit hit the spruce leg, everything came to a screeching halt. The dang wood was more than I could muscle. After straining and...

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