Art & Development

High on joinery

In Paul Henderson‘s Machine Woodworking class at Woodstock Byrdcliffe  Guild yesterday, I experienced something like looking through a microscope for the very first time. Suddenly things that were previously invisible to me became visible when I witnessed the precision craftsmanship of a hand-cut dovetail joint demonstration. I had never known that that level of accuracy was possible in wood. It required some excellently-maintained tools, including a specialists’ scribe from the English woodworking tradition, chisels sharpened to a mirror polish, and of course, the kind of wood you don’t get at a big box store. Perhaps more importantly, was execution—the brain and body operating the tools embodying skills, knowledge about the tools’ and wood’s nature, and the proper attitude. Even the care with which one cleans the workbench seemed in harmony with the spirit of the woodwork, reiterating a desire to imbue one’s surroundings with intention.

Our class project is to create another cabinet like this one, built by Paul Henderson. We did edge-joined some chestnut planks in the first class, and will work on doing the dovetail joints in the next class.

Our class project is to create another cabinet like this one, built by Paul Henderson. We did edge-joined some chestnut planks in the first class, and will work on doing the dovetail joints in the next class.

Some really cool planes for cleaning up rabets.

Some really cool planes for cleaning up rabets.

The barn, which houses the woodshop as well as ceramics studios, also has a birdhouse-megaplex.

The barn, which houses the woodshop as well as ceramics studios, also has a birdhouse-megaplex.

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