“Skill” has fallen on hard times lately. Instead of developing the dexterity to hold a tool properly and use it accurately, modern woodworkers tend to reach for some sort of clever device. There are tons of these jigs on the market: devices to hold your edge tool for sharpening, magnetic doohickies to guide your dovetail saw, and fences that perfectly square your edge planing. And then there are the shopmade variety: blocks used for square chisel chops, mitering devices, etc., etc. No one can deny that these gadgets are undoubtedly handy in production settings, but at the same time we must admit that they can also become a liability in a culture that is obsessed with devices. We are all indoctrinated to believe that it’s far easier to lean on a jig than to develop the skill to work freehand. This is dangerous for new woodworkers because it makes them feel confident without the cultivation of manual skill.
My even bringing this up rankles the children of modernity. We want fast. We want efficient. We want easy. “Making things should be easy,” they tell us. It is jarring, therefore, to read woodworking books from a prior generation. You know, those old-timers who tell it like it is. Those folks who don’t flinch to call “rejects” what doesn’t meet tolerance. The masters who harp on and on about patience, and attention, and proper shop practice.
We need more people like that these days.
Inspired by this no-nonsense wisdom of the past, I have been working on a new course that is designed to be rehab for the jig dependent. It is not about maximizing productivity, nor will it provide “hot tips” or “easy hacks.” Think of it like boot camp. Or rehab. Or just good old-fashioned practice. It is designed for those who are tired of finicky jigs or the who feel keenly aware of their inability. (The exercises in this course will also humble the overconfident.) The aim of this course is to help woodworkers overcome their dependence on jigs, not in order to somehow become more pure or more elite, but so that they can become more free. The development of skill is freedom. And that is the aim of this upcoming course.
Don’t be fooled – we can all get better.
Stay tuned for more information about this course…