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Bio/Philosophy of work

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  • Chuck Phillips
    Greetings! (Howdy, y all) I figure if I m going to start adding to the conversations here, I should introduce myself. My name is Charles Joiner, and I ve been
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 22, 2005
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      Greetings! (Howdy, y'all)

      I figure if I'm going to start adding to the conversations here, I should
      introduce myself.

      My name is Charles Joiner, and I've been hanging out at this party for a
      fairly long time. You'll find that I try to take a purist, non-electrical
      approach to my work, although I can be tolerant of screaming electrons. So
      far, I've been resident and active in 5 kingdoms (Middle, Calontir,
      Meridies, Ansteorra, and Caid) Most of what I have made is small domestic
      pieces (Chests, tables, chairs.)

      Regarding a philosophy of work, there is an interesting parallel with
      scribal work: If you want a period looking result, it's usually best to use
      period materials in the same manner as the artisans whose work you are
      trying to emulate. To this end, while planers, bandsaws, and routers can be
      terrific labor savers, they also leave tool marks as evidence of their
      passage. Somehow, having those ripples on the surface of a 14th century
      Italian cassone just spoils the effect.

      Another side benefit: If you show up at a tourney with your hand tools,
      nobody complains about you spoiling the ambiance....

      This is not meant as a blanket condemnation of power tools. If you have a
      need to crank out a lot of stuff in a short amount of time, they work a lot
      beter than a bevy of apprentices. It's just that for most of us, all they
      do let is let you get into more trouble, faster.

      Charles Joiner

      Dilbert's Words of Wisdom: Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some
      days you're the statue.
    • James Winkler
      An interesting and functional philosphy Mssr. Joiner - (... and I couldn t agree more... routers screaming in the night rarely endear any to their
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 23, 2005
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        An interesting and functional philosphy Mssr. Joiner -   (... and I couldn't agree more...  routers screaming in the night rarely endear any to their neighbors... in or out or our Society)...  I enjoyed your observations... 
         
        My own personal philosophy goes this way...  right tool for the job. 
         
        I've found that most who start off in our craft do so because the 'want stuff'.  I've met few people who thought... "Learning how to make a sliding dove tail in a two inch thick walnut plank would be cool... wonder what I need to get to learn to do that?"  ... and then go out and spend the time, energy and funds to do that... then quit.   Most, I think see the stuff that we all do and go...  "Humm.... THAT'S COOL... wonder if I can buy one... or, baring that... if I can make it???"  The passion, in my experience, comes after or somewhere during the process of filling your house/pavilion/garage/etc...  with 'stuff'...
         
        I always remember being struck by the words on the back MOL "Dress Accessories" book...  "Important results published here for the first time show the popularity of shoddy, mass-produced items in base metals during the high Middle Ages, for example, and allow researchers to identify the varied quality of products of rival traditions of manufacture mentioned in historical sources."
         
        The relevance of that quote should not be lost in what we do...  if one is to be 'historically accurate' one makes a choice between 'which history'...  do you pursue the history of the finest artisans (note, I avoid the term "Master Craftsman"... for in many cases a "Master" was merely one who completed his apprenticeship and had the coin to open their own shop... a quite different sense than our modern usage...)...  or do you pursue the medieval mindset that 'reasonable' goods at cheap prices will put more meat on the table than one 'masterwork' looking for a royal buyer?  
         
        Personally, I like doing handwork when I can...  its like drawing or any other fine art... good for the soul and the spirit.  "Feeling the wood" is almost erotic... but, like all pleasurable experiences... it shouldn't be rushed...  and often my 'modern universe' doesn't allow for me to take the time (sadly) to converse with my tools as I might wish to...
         
        So, philosophically speaking, I think that any of us who 'make and take' our stuff into whatever re-creation activity we participate in (sawmarks or no...) we give our fellows something of value...  they can glimpse yet another piece of the middle ages... 'touch' history...  and, who knows... maybe go out and buy some tools and join our merry band as we learn from each other... all the time trying to keep the count of fingers and toes near a normal balance...   I would note that the 16th/17th c. chest (simple 6-board) that I own has tool marks all over it...  many of the pieces that I see have tool marks all over them...  tool marks are cool... they tell you so much about the craftsman...   but, I must agree that there are certain pieces upon which you *might* not want to leave as many traces of your passing...  tool marks on the right pieces CAN actually make the piece look more 'right'... (O.k... they need to be the RIGHT tool marks... and those are generally made by the *RIGHT* tools...  but how many of us own a hand saw with a 3/16" kerf???)
         
        I love hand work... but find equal value in both hand and power... each is a method that serves a purpose and, I think, there is, space in my shop for both with equal due given each.  I must confess though to having a certain envy of those who can and do hold tight to the concept of 'artisan' and who's hands are skilled enough and who's wallet of time is deep enough to use nothing but hand tools...  
         
        But... welcome and glad you're posting...    (... and you're observation about power tools getting us into more trouble... and "faster"... is so, so, so... right on...  trouble with friends, time, wives, body parts, space...  OUCH...   But, on the other hand...   hand tools will get ya' there too...  just takes a bit more time... ususally...)
         
        Chas.
         
        Gary Larson's Words of Wisdom, "Bummer of a birthmark, Hal."
         
        ==============================================
         
        ----- Original Message -----
        Sent: Saturday, April 23, 2005 1:29 AM
        Subject: [MedievalSawdust] Bio/Philosophy of work

        Greetings! (Howdy, y'all)

        I figure if I'm going to start adding to the conversations here, I should
        introduce myself.

        My name is Charles Joiner, and I've been hanging out at this party for a
        fairly long time.  You'll find that I try to take a purist, non-electrical
        approach to my work, although I can be tolerant of screaming electrons.  So
        far, I've been resident and active in 5 kingdoms (Middle, Calontir,
        Meridies, Ansteorra, and Caid)  Most of what I have made is small domestic
        pieces (Chests, tables, chairs.)

        Regarding a philosophy of work, there is an interesting parallel with
        scribal work:  If you want a period looking result, it's usually best to use
        period materials in the same manner as the artisans whose work you are
        trying to emulate.  To this end, while planers, bandsaws, and routers can be
        terrific labor savers, they also leave tool marks as evidence of their
        passage.  Somehow, having those ripples on the surface of a 14th century
        Italian cassone just spoils the effect.

        Another side benefit:  If you show up at a tourney with your hand tools,
        nobody complains about you spoiling the ambiance....

        This is not meant as a blanket condemnation of power tools.  If you have a
        need to crank out a lot of stuff in a short amount of time, they work a lot
        beter than a bevy of apprentices.  It's just that for most of us, all they
        do let is let you get into more trouble, faster.

        Charles Joiner

        Dilbert's Words of Wisdom: Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some
        days you're the statue.




        <*> To visit your group on the web, go to:
             http://groups.yahoo.com/group/medievalsawdust/


      • Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart
        ... Yesterday was a wonderful example of why I use power tools for my everyday SCA event firniture. It rained all day. Power tools are faster, easier, and I
        Message 3 of 3 , Apr 24, 2005
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          > although I can be tolerant of
          > screaming electrons.


          Yesterday was a wonderful example of
          why I use power tools for my everyday
          SCA event firniture.

          It rained all day.

          Power tools are faster, easier, and I
          just don't feel I have so much of myself
          invested in the piece that I cringe to
          think about it getting rained on.

          A couple coats of poly, or modern paint
          and check them over when you get home...
          No big deal, if it warps make a new one.

          I've made a couple small items with just
          hand tools and I wouldn't think of leaving
          them out in the rain.

          I've also made multiple painted plywood chests
          that look so much better than a plastic tub
          that The added speed and ease of the power tools
          means I'm likely to give them away..

          Power tools have their place, but I agree leave
          them at home

          Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart

          Aude Aliquid Dignum
          ' Dare Something Worthy '



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