June 2002


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President's Corner

Have you noticed?

Recently while cleaning out I came across some early Fine Woodworking Magazines from 1980 or so, an Ian Kirby audio tape from a woodworking seminar of his I attended about the same time, and some old "handyperson" type magazines. In glancing through them I was struck with how our field of woodworking has changed in the last 20 years. Today there are many more magazines devoted to the craft of woodworking and they contain many sophisticated projects we wouldn't have tackled twenty years ago. The shelf devoted to woodworking books at your local bookstore has also gotten a lot bigger in recent years, as more people publish their thoughts, ideas, and techniques on woodworking.

Now many exotic woods are commonplace, albeit often in the form of veneer rather than solid lumber. Even re-cycled lumber and logs "rescued" from river bottoms are being used to make beautiful wooden items. Pre-finished maple and other light wood veneers with a clear finish are now widely used in the cabinet industry and available to us hobbyists too. No more mismatched pieces of dark oak. People are making bowls and other turnings with metal inlays and other decoration. There are a wider variety of materials and processes today than ever before.

Similarly there has been an explosion in the quantity and types of tools available. From small portable planners to multi-base, soft start routers (who doesn't have more than one?), to Japanese saws. First power tools of all types and sizes became a "must have" in the last twenty years and now hand tool use, particularly Japanese hand tools, is being taught again. There are now many more options on how to make something of wood.

There are also many, many more people using these new tools and materials to make things --- lathe turnings, furniture, craft pieces, cabinetry, whole houses --- out of wood. The hobby, the art and the profession of woodworking has grown tremendously. There are now woodworking clubs like ours, and larger, all across the country.

We may not always agree with everything he does on his show, but the Norm Abram's New Yankee Workshop has spawned a plethora of woodworking and home fix-up shows that weekly bombard us with how-to information for making things we never dreamed possible. And woodworking shows, schools, local short-courses and other instructional events teach us even more how to use these new tools to make things of wood.

Then there's the World Wide Web --- don't get me started! Yes, things have changed in two decades, but for the better! Wow, what a wonderful time to be a woodworker!

Craig Mineweaser