The Possibility of the Unknown

Blaise Pascal wrote about gambling and how it grips us because of the thrill of risk – if every roll of the dice was known, it would lose its power. The idea of taking on risk speaks to something deeper within us. When we as woodworkers split open a log, there’s always the possibility of the unknown. Our effort may reveal rot or some beauty never seen before. Hand tools are a means of connection that bring us into close contact with the risk found in nature. Never before in our history have we been surrounded by so many faux materials – imitation leather, marble, or wood, without any of the risks or quirks of natural materials. We can even bring up a crackling fire on our television complete with sounds. A bit of cheer for apartment dwellers in a box on the 22nd floor, without the risk of a stray spark or smoke. Yet at some level we long for, indeed need to connect with natural materials that challenge us, offering us failure as well as possibilities.

–George Walker, excerpt from “A Whisper from the Past: The Lessons Tools Teach Us,” in Issue Ten


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