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Real woodwork?

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Jacob

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Paul Sellers is chuntering abt "real" woodwork here.
What would you call "real" woodwork? Or what is the "unreal" alternative?

Frinstance, I don't think "real" woodwork can exclude "mass making methods, products, methods and materials" . Virtually all woodwork ever produced has prioritised efficiency, economy, optimum use of resources.
Could this mean IKEA woodwork is more "real" than the Celebration of Craftsmanship style of bespoke fancy goods?
 

monkeybiter

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IMHO Your average untrained DIYer doing the best they can repairing a wardrobe for his wife or making rabbit hutches for her kids is just as real woodwork as is fine box making or reproduction furniture making. There's a vast range of work for a range of reasons.

My gut feeling would be against 'untouched by human hand' but technically it is woodwork, but maybe no craft involved.
 

cutting42

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Really interesting topic this. In many fields there are the (usually self appointed) defenders of the true path, whether it be real woodworking, real ale, real photography (film) and probably a few others. In many ways, Jacob, you are the same as Paul Sellers as you take it upon yourself to defend vigorously a certain way of working be it sharpening or traditional constructions techniques.

We mostly all want to improve what we do and Paul Sellers views are very aspirational to most and as such do attract a lot of attention. The more mundane windows, doors, constructional business of what professional woodworkers do is not so attractive to view or read about to the more casual - read amateur - woodworker. The old fashioned joinery that you champion and presumably build is not typically as entertaining for the casual woodworker to read about.

Now I think some are clearly interested in what you say and demonstrate and old techniques are valuable as they have stood the test of time so I am not saying your approach is not of interest but it does appeal to a certain section of the woodworking audience. The vast majority of woodworkers I would say are amateur and it is a hobby so we seek entertainment rather than an income, therefore the most efficient techniques are not always top of the agenda.
 

siggy_7

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Surely the clue is in the name. If it's wood (and I include engineered woods here) and it is being worked - sawn, milled, sanded, polished, whatever - then it is woodwork. Metalwork now takes place mostly on cnc machines or in huge forges rather than in ye olde blacksmythe's shoppe, but it's still metalwork. To those who want to keep old crafts and traditions alive that's great as a hobby if that is your bag, others want a hobby which has moved with the times a bit and use machines a lot for ease, accuracy and speed and that's great too. Industrial production has very little human activity for cost, efficiency and speed but it's still woodwork, just automated. People should just do what they love and not get so pretentious around claiming their's is the "true" way - if you need to resort to that line of argument to justify your hobbies then you're in it for the wrong reasons in my opinion, just do what your enjoy and be happy.
 

Jacob

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New Axminster catalogue just hit the carpet, on it's way to the bin.
Seems to me that whatever it is, it shouldn't be defined by the gadget sellers, the woodwork circus and the media!
 

Routermonster

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Coincidence or what? - as I read this latest comment from Jacob I've just heard stuff dropping through the letterbox, and guess what - it's my Axminster catalogue! Not sure if I'll bin it just yet - depends on their prices.

I think that IKEA products do qualify as woodwork. We've got some of their stuff in our home (some of it is nearly 20 years old), as have our daughters, who have each moved from flat to flat over the years, and have taken their bookcases, chests of drawers, etc, with them. IKEA furniture is designed for mass production, built to a price, and designed for ease of self-assembly by people with little woodworking skills. in many cases their design is basic, but if you believe in form following function, then they are definitely fit for purpose.

I'd rather buy IKEA furniture because of its lack of pretence, and (generally) use of sustainable sources, than all the horrid, badly-made, Far Eastern so-called 'proper' furniture sold in high street furniture stores and sheds. And yet, even this stuff can be classed as 'woodwork'!

Sorry for the rant.

Les
 

monkeybiter

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Jacob":31td7mti said:
New Axminster catalogue just hit the carpet, on it's way to the bin.
Seems to me that whatever it is, it shouldn't be defined by the gadget sellers, the woodwork circus and the media!
You can send it on to me if you like :wink:
 

Mr T

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Jacob said
New Axminster catalogue just hit the carpet, on it's way to the bin.
Perhaps you could save a few trees by asking Axminster to stop sending the catalogue Jacob!

I like to think that my practice is based in traditional methods, that is certainly where it has grown from. However unless you occupy a very limited niche in the market it is not possible to make a living using entirely traditional methods, so I have adopted many modern techniques and materials. No one knows whether these methods will stand the test of time. But then I suppose many makers of our current antiques thought the same when they used what were for them new methods ("Not sure about this newfangled animal glue, I'll stick with my oak pegs"!).

An aspect of the traditional crafts movement which I have difficulty with is it's blinkered approach. I remember talking to some of the green woodworkers at Westonburt a few years ago and mentioning the work of Guy Maritin who has a more radical approach to green woodworking. The traditionalists were not interested, they seemed to just want to recreate the past.

Some may say we were better off in medieval times but I feel that humankind would still be in those times if everyone had the attitude I describe. Progress moves on, lets keep the good bits but not slavishly hang on to everything just because it's "traditional".

Chris
 

Richard T

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Mr. Sellers sites something he saw on Robin's site "Old film footage where a man used an axe and some oversized spoon augers to shape a pair of clogs" as being the sort of thing he's getting at.

A Belgian friend phoned me a while ago to commission such a spoon auger (or three) as he had been on a trad clog making course in Amsterdam and the augers he had used were rare, antique survivors. So having done the course, he can't go on to practice the art because the tools for the job have vanished and don't get made any more. (Definitely not found in the Axminster catalogue Jacob.)
Not only that, he turns to me, a Brummie, to try to work out how to make something for a completely foreign method of woodworkology - British clogs are wooden soles with leather uppers - from his native Belgium where he can find no one with any more of a clue.

To bemoan the loss of traditional methods and to try to resurrect them, I'm all for. Though to call something "real" over er, "artificial"? Is a bit strong I think. "Tried and tested for centuries" versus "The latest idea" might be more accurate.
 

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Krenov is interesting on this. I recall a passage where he is pointing out the value of finely made things, but goes on to say that no one can - or should - be surrounded by such things. Bottom line is that it is just too expensive and time
consuming to make everything to the highest standards. It's the inevitable clash between what we want and economic realities.

For me what is important is that whether we are involved in either the craft or the production end of the spectrum, we do what we do as thoughtfully, consciously and well as we can - because the environments we make for ourselves and others have a huge impact on people, and on the quality of the culture we end up living in.

Marcus
 

Digit

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I read quite a few books, and regularly read, articles by the late Jim Kingshot and I recall a comment he made in one mag that I thought was quite unacceptable.
Some one wrote in seeking info on a subject and recieved short thrift from Jim, he stated, 'I've never done any DIY!'
His next article was on making window frames!
Views depend on where you stand I think.

Roy.
 

dickm

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Richard T":391gnvag said:
Not only that, he turns to me, a Brummie, to try to work out how to make something for a completely foreign method of woodworkology -
But surely Brummagem was once the "workshop of the world"! So obviously anyone's first place to ask :D
 

Hudson Carpentry

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What I would feel is real woodwork is someone using woodworking tools and doing something to wood with them. However thats how I feel and in truth, speaking from a logical and literal view anything where wood is used and worked is real wood work. Fake wood working would be pretending to work with wood or using a material thats not wood nor ever has been.
 

No skills

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I half expected to see quite a lot of poncy replys to this thread, there are none so far. Hats off to the regular down to earth folk you are =D>
 

Lons

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Great question Jacob =D>

My view is that if it's made out of wood (even if combined with other materials), and cut, shaped, sanded, glued, polished, turned, carved then it's woodworking.
Just assembling Ikea type "furniture" is not though Ikea manufacturing surely must be especially as much of their stuff is whitewood. Not too sure about the laminate panels however?

There are grey areas. I fit kitchens but rarely make them so probably 95% is assembly and 5% the woodworking bit where I have to scribe, cut and improvise to make it a quality fit.
Making a shed is - assembling a bought one isn't, but then modifying it is. Cutting down a tree can't be but then converting / drying is :?

I would never criticise those extensively using machinery or feel inferior for not using handtools exclusively as it's a matter of personal choice. Different strokes and all that. :)

So who's to say = eh? :wink:

Bob
 

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kirkpoore1":zl5fbrdy said:
Jacob":zl5fbrdy said:
Could this mean IKEA woodwork is more "real" than the Celebration of Craftsmanship style of bespoke fancy goods?
You seem to be implying that IKEA uses wood. I'm not sure that's really the case.:)

Kirk
Much of IKEA furniture is actually made of wood (boards). The joints on the other hand are usually not, which tends to make them much less stable the traditionally joined furniture.
 

Jacob

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P Sellers clarifies his ideas here.
He seems to say that where it's all gone wrong (unreal woodwork?) is the fault of tool sellers, magazines and wood-be gurus. Some truth in that!
But I feel very vague about "real" woodwork. I suppose I'd define it as the woodwork I personally approve of, which doesn't get us anywhere much!
IKEA is OK by me except much of it is too obsolescent - not long lasting and hard to maintain or repair. Maybe that's a criterion i.e. sustainability?
 

andy king

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Jacob":mrjfsrv7 said:
He seems to say that where it's all gone wrong (unreal woodwork?) is the fault of tool sellers, magazines and wood-be gurus. Some truth in that!
Hmm, that's a little hypocritical on his part, he is currently writing for one of the UK Woodwork magazines, and alongside is an advertisment for his own book plus seven DVDs...
I'm unsure as to what online forum he's refering to as being owned by an advertising company, or the 'gurus' who back one particular manufacturer - perhaps he should name them to clarify?
It's easy to say the advertising in magazines are for goods he would find little use for, but the manufacturers place those ads, not the publishers!
That said, it can be the case that one tool or another could be purchased for a specific task and rarely get a run out. A waste of money, or essential when you need to use it?
You could say for instance, do I need a shoulder plane? I don't use one very often, but when I need it, it's invaluable.
However, you could equally look at your own woodworking prowess and see if you could be more accurate from the saw to eradicate the need for one. Horses for courses.
I often look at stuff that I can see value in, and comment accordingly, but if something is just not up to scratch, I say so.
If I see, use or own a product that I rate, i'll promote as such equally.
I've often had comments aimed at me of bias etc because of what I do, but i've said it before, I review for the reader, not the advertiser or the magazine owner.
I'll continue to stand my ground while I keep reading such things.
Promotion at shows by manufacturers is what they are there for surely?
Any company would promote its product as essential or it would be pointless in making it. It happens in all walks - tyre manufacturers tell you their high performance one's stop a few metres quicker than others. Great if your reactions are good enough to take advantage, and if you are one of those who feel they are Jenson Button etc and love cars, essential purchases, but personally I drive on 'National Heath' tyres and drive to the conditions, keeping good distance between cars etc. I don't feel the need.
I suppose tool buying is the same. One woodowrker might be happy with a basic plane, another wants something of better quality. End user choice, they both do similar work, one a little better than the other in some circumstances.
It's down to being sucked in. If a woodwork show bloke sucks anyone in, it's down to his sales technique, and/or the gullibility of the purchaser if the product proves worthless.
Getting back to the original post (easy to get waylaid when other comments are made!) 'Real Woodwork' in my eyes can be defined as those who do it under duress and those that enjoy it.
Skill levels are irrelevent - if you get enjoyment and achievement from it, you win.
Many people do woodwork out of necessity, either diy repairs at home or even as a job and get nothing from it.
I know many people in the trade who refuse to do it outside of the work arena - it pays the bills, nothing more.
On the forums, i'd say most if not all are avid woodworkers, those who do it for a living still enjoy doing it in their spare time, and remainder those who simply enjoy working with wood.
Whether they turn out elaborate, high class stuff or turn an egg cup, it's woodwork, and if they do it for the value of doing so, that for me is real woodwork.

Andy
 

Jacob

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andy king":3p1mip7z said:
Jacob":3p1mip7z said:
He seems to say that where it's all gone wrong (unreal woodwork?) is the fault of tool sellers, magazines and wood-be gurus. Some truth in that!
Hmm, that's a little hypocritical on his part, he is currently writing for one of the UK Woodwork magazines, and alongside is an advertisment for his own book plus seven DVDs...........
Well yes it had occurred to me too! Touch of the St Jim K about his prose, which could be a warning sign.
 

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