Why I Cut the Cord


As WIA is approaching fast, I’ve been working to get all my ducks in a row for the event. There is the usual booth prep kind of stuff: inventory merchandise, gather tools, get cash for the cash box, etc. but this time around I’ve also decided to give a presentation at “Shop Talk” in the Marketplace about my hand tool working journey. So I’m working on those notes too. Its title ‘Cutting the Cord: Why I Converted to Hand-Tool-Only Furniture Making’ highlights the empowering liberation I’ve felt by severing my dependence on woodworking machinery. Rather than working by an “A.S.A.P.” mentality, I now roll up my sleeves and embrace the humble handplane. I’ve decided to invest myself in this hand tool craft heritage because I work wood for enjoyment, not a business’s bottom line.

I’ve been surprised, though. I’ve discovered that it’s a myth that hand tools are slow and arduous. When I began to work with the methods and to the tolerances of the pre-industrial artisan, I realized why period cabinetmakers’ account books recorded such amazingly fast work. It’s because they weren’t working to 21st century aerospace tolerances.

Today, this kind of woodworking is countercultural but I truly believe working this way is not only efficient, but it’s beautiful. Honest tool texture on handmade furniture gives a beauty and authenticity that no machine can mimic. It’s not sloppiness. It’s wonderfully wabi-sabi. I am convinced that hand-tool-only woodworking is a viable and wonderful option for the 21st century woodworker.

I’m stoked to be sharing about these things at WIA this year, so make sure you stop by “Shop Talk” on Saturday at 3:00.

Will I see you there? Drop me a note below. I look forward to seeing you, readers.

-Joshua