Issue 07 T.O.C. – Understanding David Pye’s “Workmanship of Risk”


This is part of a blog series which reveals the table of contents of upcoming Issue Seven. As always, we’ll be discussing one article per weekday in order to give you a taste of what is come.

Please note that the subscription window which includes Issue Seven is open now until Sep 24th.

A NEW CHANGE: WRAPPING FOR SUBSCRIPTIONS ONLY

From now on, we will be wrapping magazines (brown paper, wax-sealed trade card, and pine shaving) for subscriptions onlynot individually purchased copiesof the magazine. This is an effort to simplify things a bit around here. Individual copies can be ordered after the subscriptions ship on September 30th, but if you really do love that wax seal, brown paper, and pine wood shaving, be sure to get a subscription now.

If you aren’t sure about your subscription status, you can reach out to us at info@mortiseandtenonmag.com. Keep in mind though, if you are set to auto-renew, you never have to worry about getting the next issue of Mortise & Tenon.

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A FRESH & UNEXPECTED BEAUTY

Understanding David Pye’s “Workmanship of Risk”

Joshua A. Klein 

Have you read David Pye’s classic book, The Nature and Art of Workmanship? If so, you’re in the minority among those woodworkers who express a strong opinion of this seminal work. Many have heard of Pye’s concept of “Workmanship of Risk,” and often hold marked views of the concept (either positive and negative) based on secondhand opinions rather than personal reflection on his actual arguments. Pye’s philosophical explorations into the nature of craft seem even more relevant today than they did when the book was first published over 50 years ago, as tremendous advancements in woodworking tool technology (CNC machines, Bluetooth-equipped saws) have found their way into many hobbyists’ shops. 

Author Joshua Klein takes a fresh look at this classic book in an effort to get to the heart of Pye’s arguments, and shows how the concepts of “risk” and “certainty” can inform and inspire our approach to the craft in reflection of the natural world. Himself a “hybrid” woodworker who developed several ingenious jigs for carving, Pye did not shy away from machines in his shop but sought to define their use within a proper context. His work is not an us-versus-them, hand-tool/power-tool dichotomy, but a thoughtful look at what has made artisans tick, from ancient times to today.

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