There is no such thing as “the way they did it.” When we consider woodworkers of the past and their various tools, it’s easy to fall into the trap of looking for the “old ways” of doing it – as if woodcraft has been a monolithic enterprise. In reality, the body of surviving furniture and tools from history testifies to a diversity of approaches and cultural values. No two chairs are alike because no two artisans are alike.
The authors in this issue hold up for us another way of working-in-the-world. Each article in its own way shows us that craft is, at bottom, a human endeavor. Whether it’s showcasing the generations of Appalachian families who lived in joyful self-sufficiency, or the struggles of modern apprenticeship in a past world, or the skilled work of an enslaved craftsman that eventually earned him freedom, this issue brims with heart. It succeeds, as Updegraff puts it, in “keeping the folk in folk craft.”