Dear Reader

This is a website dedicated to the documentation of my woodworking endeavours. The name Je ne sais quoi Woodworking indicates on the one hand that I am still in the process of learning the trade and on the other that there is a goal of achieving something special. In other words, “a certain je ne sais quoi”, (which is snob vernacular for  an indefinably elusive quality that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and hopefully functional at the same time) is what I am aiming for. For those of you who wants to know how to pronounce je ne sais quoi, go here.

What makes my site and posts different to other woodworking blogs is the fact that I am based in Namibia and English is very much my second language. My geographical location presents multiple challenges in accessing tools and ability to get hands-on advice/teaching. On the positive side, it helps me to endeavour beyond my comfort zone on a fairly frequent basis. The language issue might result in unintended (by me) humour for the readers. Furthermore, I am a psychiatrist by training, which should restrict excessive comments by readers (as I can read minds).

The aim is to share my ideas, as at least half of what I know (which is not much) came from similar websites by other passionate woodworkers. Otherwise it is a process of documentation for my own future reference, which might translate into a certain amount of repetition for which I apologise in advance.

Since 2016 a talented Cape Town based woodworker by the name of Frank Bartlett started contributing articles to the site.It resulted in an idea to publish certain post of readers who does not want to blog full-time, but still would like to contribute to the wonderful online woodworking community. Je ne sais quoi Woodworking would therefore like to serve as a vehicle for likeminded African woodworkers to publish their insights and projects. So if you are one of those woodworkers feel free to contact me. Let’s see where that takes us.


Gerhard Marx

Photo on 2013-05-17 at 08.10

6 thoughts on “Home”

  1. Hey Gerhard,

    I found your blog during a search for a project I’m working on. You have some great projects here. I hope you don’t mind. I pinned a few to my Pinterest board, so I can find them easily later and so others might see you excellent work.

    1. Hi Tim, it is not a problem at all, actually I feel honoured by your gesture. Please go ahead and pin up as much as you like.
      Kind regards

  2. Hi Gerhard
    Will write in English for the benefit of other readers. I’m a old tool collector/user. Was Googling for Lie Nielsen chisel handles (want to fit LN type handles to my old Witherby socket chisels), when I discovered your delightful site! Read the word Ysterhout and that for sure puzzled me until I came to realize you’re a Boertjie! I originally hail from the Kavango myself, grew up there. Anyway, because I like aged English Boxwood so much (but you won’t be able to source it in South Africa), I decided to try the Cape Boxwood (Kamassi) on the chisels. Came out ok, not totally impressed with my finish though. You ever worked with it? So many projects but so little time…
    This is truly a remarkable site and I will for sure visit it regularly to get up to speed with all your projects and wanderings.
    Cape Town

    1. Hi Frank

      Thank you for getting in touch. It is wonderful to get to know someone interested in the same stuff as me right here in Southern Africa. I would be very interested to talk with you on where you tend to find quality old tools around this part of the world. I am spending a fortune on getting the stuff from America! I have some friends and family in Cape Town so maybe we should catch up one day when I am visiting? I made a small lamp stand many moons ago from a piece of Kamassi I picked up on the old road between George and Wilderness. Daar by die Silwerriviertjie. Other than that I have no experience with it. I would actually love to find a nice sized piece of it, but from my memory they rarely get big enough for anything other than stuff like tool handles. The best thing for me is that you must surely be the only guy who has a Kamassi handled Whitherby socket chisel. Impressive!!!

      Please stay in touch, it is a pleasure to meet you.

      1. Fantastic! When you intend to pay Cape Town a visit again, perhaps you can make it clear in one of your blog entries? I’ll email you then and we can get together around a cold “Tafel’tjie. Jim Bode and kie are a bit out of my league so I’m normally going the eBay route. And therefor of course got a few duds. There was a Stanley #2 the other day on Gumtree for R200 ($16). Always monitoring Bid or Buy as well.
        I was getting so desperate for Boxwood for my tool handles that I got Forestry to cut me down a tree in Knysna! Asked them for a small branch that surely must be lying around but no, they could only offer me a smallish tree!! Was quite a mission to cut this thing up on a 6inch bandsaw. You’re right about the tool handles sized pieces, much like it’s European counterpart. Got rid of a few and stacked the rest inside my garage to dry, but there was still a lot of checking, even though I sealed the ends. Combines nice with African Blackwood (Dalbergia M.) and even Tambotie etc. When you visit, perhaps I’ll have some left….?
        Speak to you again. In the meantime, enjoy that utterly, stunning country.
        Best regards

        1. Hi Frank

          A Tafeltjie sounds like just the medicine. I will mail you as soon as I have an idea about a possible visit to CT. I am going down to the Garden Route over December, there are a few good antique shops in Mosselbay and George that have the odd halve decent old tool from time to time.

          Speak to you soon.

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