The Weight of Words

“Once more, we play our dangerous game.” Captain Marko Ramius, The Hunt for Red October.

Issue Twelve is nearly ready.

Joshua and I have been working through all the details – properly formatting endnotes, gathering image citations, scratching our heads over obscure terms. Very shortly, we will hand the issue over to the capable hands of Megan Fitzpatrick for copy editing. Then we have a full, out-loud read-through to do and last-minute loose ends to clean up before the whole thing is sent off to the printer. There, this digital potential becomes a real, physical thing. Bits and pixels and concepts and arguments, ethereal stuff, gets arranged and impressed onto 70# Enviro Print Opaque FSC uncoated paper and bound together to form something literally weighty – ­both literally (each issue weighs over 1 lb.) and, hopefully, in the metaphoric sense as well.

That’s the magic of the written word. Words are powerful – they can injure or heal, build up and inspire or put off and tear down. We’re all aware of the way words can offend, create change, and enlighten, often all at the same time. Even from the platform of a simple print publication about hand-tool woodworking, there is opportunity to sow good and thought-provoking seed. I think of Welsh chairmaker John Brown, who discussed the nuances of his beautiful chairs but also spoke frankly about what he saw as the blight of power tools in the shop. He made friends as well as enemies, but inspired many. One so inspired was Christopher Schwarz, whose book, The Anarchist’s Tool Chest, helped kick off not only a hand-tool revival but also a new way of considering both the things we’re building and the reason we’re building them.

It’s good to be challenged – both in our skill and in our thinking. In seeking out a whole host of different voices and perspectives on handcraft, our goal is to offer a paradigm stretch for you, our readers – as these articles get us thinking in new ways (which are sometimes not new at all, but ancient) we hope they do the same for you. But remember, as philosopher Alan Watts said, “The menu is not the meal.” Reading and weighing ideas about philosophy, technique, and history are good and valuable, but we should try them out. Read about a novel way of sharpening your plane iron or cutting joinery? Rather than discarding these out of hand as goofy or impracticable, give them a try. Challenged by a new perspective on workholding or the use of machines in your shop? Experiment with it. Weigh the pros and cons. The richness of creative work is not meant to be kept sealed away in the pages of a book or magazine, but practiced.


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