It has been a while since I wrote “My Journey 4”, 17/7/2013 to be precise. Over the past few weeks I started thinking about the process over the past 3 years since starting to set up my current shop. As I explained previously, I am using the shop setup phase to improve my skills and to learn as much as possible before diving into the proper cabinet making phase. Over the past three years my knowledge, philosophy and skills have undergone a major metamorphosis, predominantly as a result of all the reading, research and DVD based learning I did.
In this post I want to discuss what I consider to be the most influential characters in this process. The so called “awesome foursome”. They are (in no particular order) David Charlesworth, Christopher Schwarz, Patrick Leach and Deneb Puchalski. Let’s tackle them one by one.
I was given five complimentary DVD’s by Lie-Nielsen as part of my first purchase back in December 2012. I could chose from their list and just happened to chose four Charlesworth masterpieces, as I did not even know who he was at that time. You will find the titles on the library page of this site. These DVDs changed the way I think about and approach woodwork in the most profound manner possible. I struggle to remember or understand why I even enjoyed woodworking prior to watching these DVDs. He single handedly opened up the ancient and mesmerizing world of hand tools, their use, care and maintenance. His dry English humour, meticulous approach and crystal clear explanations are absolutely riveting to a receptive woodworker. I say, to “a receptive woodworker”, as my wife absolutely hates it.
My enjoyment of the craft has increased tenfold since he made me aware of the quiet precision made possible by sharp, well maintained quality hand tools. His advice and techniques apply to almost every woodworking problem I have encountered since. Another key characteristic of David that changed my approach significantly is his sedate and thoughtful yet meticulous and deliberate manner. In the past I used to try and race through projects, trying to finish them yesterday and often ended up feeling unhappy with the result. Charlesworth taught me to slow down, enjoy the process and consider each move carefully before diving in. This made a profound difference in the enjoyment and quality of my work.
He is without a doubt my woodworking icon.
The next guy I really appreciate is Christopher Schwarz. The first I saw of him was also a Lie-Nielsen DVD on workbenches. After watching a few Charlesworth DVDs, I enjoyed his but was not all that impressed. Since December 2012 though (when I first watched that DVD), I came across more and more of his stuff and really acquired a taste for his work. What I like about the guy is his seemingly limitless enthusiasm for the tools and history of the craft.
I then bought his two books on workbenches (which you can find on the library page of this site) and enjoyed that as much as the Charlesworth DVDs. I have now reread the books several times and am in the process of building my own 18th century bench based in large part on the advise and discussions in these two books. In December 2013 I read his book ‘The Anarchist’s Tool Chest’ and that really got me interested in his way of approaching the craft. I really like his style of writing and learned heaps about several tools I’ve not even been aware of before.
Next is Deneb Puchalski. I got to know Deneb via e-mail communication with Lie-Nielsen. He was extremely helpful from the start and over time become my go-to man when I need advice about anything. He helped when I needed advice on the best angle of attach while I built all those wooden hand planes, suggested the best blades from their collection for the various planes, and more recently he gave me advice on the best adhesive to use (in terms of open time) once I assemble my workbench. It really helps to have someone who knows what they are talking about when you are stuck. He is also very prompt with his responses, which I appreciate given that he is probably quite a busy guy.
Last, but not least is Patrick Leach. Patrick is the owner of The Superior Works. He sells old vintage tools that he finds all over the world. Patrick has a vast knowledge of old tools and the manufacturers that used to produce these tools (and is not scared to share his knowledge). His famous work called “Patricks Blood and Gore” seems to be the most comprehensive source of information on Stanley planes available and it is free to read and download from his website. His monthly list of tools for sale is accompanied by descriptions of each tool. The information in these lists has taught me more than any other on the topic of tool history.
Patrick is helping me to find all the old tools (that I need) that is not available for sale anymore and in the process I have learnt heaps. I really appreciate having access to someone like him, while being stuck in the tool wilderness.
In other words I am a different woodworker as a result of these gentlemen and I am very grateful for the knowledge and different perspective they have imparted in various different ways over the past 2 years.