Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What Kind of Woodworking Do You Do?

Wasn't it Will Rogers who said "I never met an aspect of woodworking I didn't like."?

I'm all over the map with woodworking. There are just too many things I'd like to try.

I call myself a woodworker, but when people ask what I make, I always hesitate. Well, I've built a few handplanes, I've made a few pieces of furniture in different styles, some home accessories, a few pens, and then my voice trails off with a shrug. "Stuff", I say.

I've tried chip carving, string inlay, turning, rustic woodworking, spoon making, and now I'm trying carving-in-the-round.

I've mastered nothing, but I'm sure having a good time playing at woodworking.

I've found my passion in a general sense, but can't say that I've discovered that one aspect of woodworking that is really "it." I even totally stink at certain things, like my latest craze, carving-in-the-round. But I'm determined to "get" this. I would really like to be able to reproduce the antique handplane in the photo.

Understanding carving and making your knife or gouge do what your brain wants can be two different things. I know you rough out a shape, then work in levels, from high to low, gradually removing more of the waste area. I also know you always carve downhill, from a high spot to a low spot. But that's all I know. It's a challenge, but I would like to be able to claim to be a Woodcarver someday.

Some people can readily answer the question "What kind of woodworking do you do?" Some cannot. And for those of us who love every aspect of woodworking (except for turning--I'm not wild about that one), perhaps there's another term for what we do.

Jack-Of-All-Woodworking, Swiss Army Knife Woodworking, Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink Woodworking, Evolving Woodworking?

I know....FUN Woodworking!


Timberwerks Studio - Dale J. Osowski - Furniture Maker said...

Wow, that looks fantastic. You do have the skills for carving that's for sure.

brad said...

that looks much more like a dragon that may think! More like a dragon than a flower.

Corey said...

Hey Kari, I'm with you. I started carving 20 years ago, and although I think I've mastered some things, I still like to dabble with all of woodworking. I turn a little, I still carve once in a while, and I make furniture and other things. I think the thing I like most about woodworking for a hobby is there are so many interesting things you can try. I've spent some time doing a little marquetry and veneer work too. Just keep having fun and posting your adventures. I look forward to your next blog entry.....

Shazza said...

I have no doubts that you will master your carving in the round in no time! Have fun!

Doug Berch said...

I'm very impressed. Really. I think you've already "got it" and will just keep getting better!

Shannon said...

Where do you think the Renaissance Woodworker title came from for my blog. I can't focus on just one style of woodworking long enough to say that that is what I do. Although I think you have achieved a higher level of mastery on each area before moving on that I have. At least you finish the projects :)


Charles said...

What u talkin' bout Willis!?!? You're carving is looking very much like the original... It will be very neat to see the final reproduction... perfect application of your love of carving and plane making.

I have a similar difficulty describing what I make. It's always a great exercise in hesitating and stammering. Probably related to the fact that I don't make anything.

will said...

Perhaps choose your description based upon whether or not you sell your wares. If nothing is sold, that's a hobbyist woodworker.

If you sell stuff - choose the description based upon whatever is sold.

Metalworker Mike said...

In the metalworking world, the generalists are the millwrights. That's what I am. In the woodworking world it would make sense, to me, that Roy Underhill got it right and it's the woodwright that is the generalist woodworker, able to turn his or her hand to whatever needs to be done. So call yourself a member in good standing of the Crimson Order of Woodwrights (pass the band-aids, and keep your tetanus shots up to date...) :)


Larry Marshall said...

In a post on my blog I argued that those who establish an outfitted woodshop and then do only one form of it are under-utilizing their tools and missing out on the joy of the hobby. You're my idol, Kari, and your carving is better than mine :-)

Cheers --- Larry

Rob, aka, The Tattooed Woodworker said...

I hate to say it, but honestly, I call myself a furniture maker. Aside from workbenches, it's the only type of woodworking I do. I don't carve or turn, and except for perhaps making drawer pulls, I don't have an interest in either one. I think I'm REALLY weird in this aspect of the craft, though.
Carving looks very good- you'll be repro-ing that plane in no time!

Frontier Carpenter said...

I love that plane and I have a picture of it in my work shop. Your carvings looks great! From the rest of your projects I’ve seen on line I’m sure you’ll master this.

I myself am not really good at any one thing I thinks it more important to do what interests you and makes you happy.

When will you finish your trestle table?

joel said...

I'm going to suggest that you are not actually interested in "woodworking" you are interested in "making things" wood being a wonderful material to make things in.
Nothing wrong with that.

The problem of course is that the number of techniques and tools needed to master everything is several lifetimes of achievement so we can just try to do what we can.

It's a lot of fun too.
when I was a kid I build really small complicated models. I also liked making steam engines. However making furniture was far more mainstream and it was far easier to impress women with "thanks, I made this couch" than "That's a perfect replica of a 1897 Sterling engine on the shelf" - which was a great way to get them off the couch and hurriedly mentioning some other engagement across town or in another city.

Unknown said...

For me, I love a challenge. If something comes my way that looks interesting to make, I throw caution to the wind and go for it. It renews my love of woodworking and opens new doors. Carving egg and dart molding, radius doors, hammer veneering, whatever. There are so many paths to take with wood that it never stops being interesting. And repairing antiques always affords great challenges. And they did it with hand tools. Amazing.

The Great Ethan Allen said...

Haha! I knew you had a carver buried deep down inside there somewhere! I'm a carver first, woodworker second. I have made some simple furniture around the house and the back porch in my humble workshop. I have even attempted dovetails with a chisel! ( I suck at it and hate it) But I do attempt it from time to time to see if I can "improve" As for carving, Your's look great! in the round is more difficult than relief, but sometimes you will impress yourself with how some project turns out. Can't wait to see more!

Woodbloke said...

Hi Kari - I suppose furniture making would describe what I like to do best, together with a bit of turning now and again as well as pottering around with tools. I tried carving and sculpture years ago but couldn't get on with it. I've just had a go on a pole lathe and shaving horse which was an entirely different sort of activity and one that I'd never done before.
If you've gone off turnig by the way, you could email me your lathe and I'll swop it for a tin of Vaseline...(already moving towards the door!!) - Rob

Alan said...

Your unwillingness to decide on one "thing" and stick to it is just a symptom of deep intellectual curiosity. The joy you take in discovering new ways to work with wood is wonderful, and it's why we read your blog. Keep learning...and then sharing with the rest of us!

msiemsen said...

Turning is carving where the wood moves instead of the tools. You are not a "hobbiest" woodworker you are an "avocational" woodworker. When asked about your work just describe the latest thing you had success with and enjoyed making, it will be fresh in your mind and your excitement will come through. You could carry a photo wallet of completed pieces!(don't)

MontanaMark said...

I like what Metalworker Mike said! Woodwright fits just wright! One thing I try not to do is copy something like your carved plane. It is great to want to carve a beautiful plane, but don't make a copy, come up with your own design and then you (and others) won't be able to say "well it's good, but not as nice as the original." Yours WILL be the original.

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks for all the great comments and insightful words of advice! Hearing other people's stories and viewpoints always makes me want to head out to my shop. Woodworking is definitely exciting, in whatever aspect you engage.

I believe Metalworker Mike has nailed it! Please set up a facebook club page and lay claim to your clever term. I would like to be a charter member of the Crimson Order of Woodwrights. :o)

Frontier Carpenter, I messed up the drawer and need to build a new one. In the meantime, I've become distracted by things like carving and spoon making. Ah, well.

Metalworker Mike said...

I'll leave the Facebooking and Twittering and all of that kind of thing to those with more tolerance. I have a hard enough time keeping up with blogging!

Chief Tea-maker and Bandage-Winder
of the Crimson Order of Woodwrights

msiemsen said...

Do you really want to be part of an organization where you could be referred to as a C.O.W. ?
I bled last night, big drops. Wound my own bandage for my wound.( Why are those words spelled alike?)

montanamark said...

The deed is done. Crimson Order of Woodwrights is created on facebook. Calling all C.O.W.s

Kari Hultman said...

HAHAHA! I'm IN! Kari=Proud to be a C.O.W.

Metalworker Mike said...

I just posted a message to the OldTools list announcing the creation of the Facebook group. I must say that I outdid myself on the call to join - even if I do say so myself - wherein I proclaimed:

Be a COW! Join the herd.

Jason Weaver said...

I think there are people who get into woodworking, because something they saw appealed to them. Whether it be turning, furniture, carving, scroll saw work - some stay there for most of their woodworking, only venturing into the unknown as part of a current project (like Rob's drawer pulls).

Then there are people like you and I who want to try it all. For me, I am like a hyper dog. I see something I like and I tackle it, but then wait... what's that? I like that too, so I jump on that - often abandoning the first interest without completing it. My wife just see my ADHD as endearing.

I am new to woodworking, and even though I want to try turning, carving, inlay, etc. I am trying to stay focused on hand tools. I want to properly learn to use these tools and make some pieces before straying out into other realms.

Anyway, I also get off on tangents and a brief comment turns into more. I will leave you with my suggestion:

"Jack of all trades, master of fun."


Kari Hultman said...

Metalworker Mike, there are already 33 members of C.O.W. herd on FB. :o)

Jason--that is a perfect phrase to sum it all up!

XTL said...

I can't see that anyone bothered to post the actual link, but I believe this is the correct one:

FB Crimson Order of Woodwrights


Anonymous said...

Follow your bliss. That's where the muses will be waiting for you.

tree geek said...

Hi! I totally agree with you about wood turning. My first attempt using a lathe ended with the machine flying apart on me! Never again, I say. Carving knives and I don’t seem to get along very well so I use a dremel and small files. When asked what kind of woodworking I do, I usually say pretty much anything but mainly boxes and furniture. But then they ask what kind of boxes!! Your carving looks great! How about we say: Jill-Of-All-Woodworking? 

Kari Hultman said...

Jill-of-all-woodworking, I love it! :o)