Why I create ... the beginnings of a Makers Manifesto

I’m deeply connected with the process of making. The smells and textures of the materials as I work with them and the rhythm of the work is soothing. Using the body to move through space in concert with materials is so satisfying and connecting that one becomes ethereally present in the moment. Flow. This is how I develop my story. My story made real through making. 

Making provides the opportunity to learn something new everyday. Making provides the opportunity to connect and learn from people with different world views than your own. This experience is so uplifting that it becomes like a drug in that we cannot enough of and we search for this experience. Most makers are self aware enough not to let this endeavor over power prudent behavior. More and more, making is seen as necessary part of community and learning. Maker spaces are popping up everywhere.  

This past week in the shop I’ve finished five small boxes, a bread board and a serving tray for the Farmers Market. I finished the welding cart and painted the bell. Next week I will be making and finishing a large breadboard for Becky, a special new design I’m stealing from an article in Fine Woodworking (can’t wait to show you), a wood and metal book shelf for a special small space in our kitchen, and the bench I started several months ago. This bench was one of my first metal/welding projects and I got the wood for the seat and back from Jack Carpenter a local sawyer. I finally got the metal bar for supporting the back yesterday. 

More on the maker's manifesto and pictures of completed projects coming. 

Small 4x4x2.5 inch boxes.

Bell made from recycled oxygen tank. Bottom cut off and ring welded to top. Now I need to build an outside hanger.

Nice to have the welder up of the floor. Poor choice for wheels as they are not so smooth.

Befriending ambiguity

“Take the Zen master’s advice, work less aggressively, befriending ambiguity.” Richard Sennett from is book “The Craftsman”. Zen is everywhere. How can Zen practice relate to making, craftsmanship, hand work, and skill building? Using minimal force and releasing to the universe. Sounds like Zen practice is a congruent to being a maker.

This week in the shop I’ve learned several things. Sanding with 400 and 600 grit waterproof paper while finishing with oil really improves the finished surface. Shellac first when finishing cherry as it tends to blotch. I should start with flat boards before glue up rather than try to flatten after the fact. Small boxes take small (thin) lids. Hummus becomes very creamy when you add a small amount of the liquid the beans where boiled in. 

Made 5 small boxes out of wood.

Two thick maple cutting boards.

Advanced a 19X30 maple cutting board. This board will be made like fine furniture. I got inspired by an article in Fine Woodworking magazine about making picture frames as fine furniture. I plan on installing bread board ends and pinning them so as it can move with seasonal changes in humidity. The costumer will get to choose between maple and walnut for the bread board ends. Tomorrow I go to Lewiston to flatten and sand the board with a 26” drum sander.

 In the metal shop this week I painted my welding cart,

make a metal 4X4 pencil holder

a simple metal bender and 

added a ring to the bell I'm making.

Too many projects in process. But this is become my usual. 


Rejects. Discovered flaws. Design dead ends. Patterns. I save these as reminders.

More thinking on ‘working to honesty and integrity’. Working with our hands and seeing the outcomes of our labors is a powerful learning experience. Evaluating our work and comparing it to our own expectations is tricky. Some of us are of the nature to be self critical and focus on the flaws. Some of us are of the nature to be to lax and ho hum. A balance it to realize that our imagination, our creative eye is always ahead of our abilities to execute. This is a good and natural thing. This is where honesty and integrity come in. We must be honest about out intentions and their outcomes. What is it to make a spoon? If we make something with the intention to make it pretty then call it pretty. If we make a spoon, make the best spoon you can.

Repetition. Malcom Gladwell suggested that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. This maybe true or not but it is clear that repetition and focused practice lead to skill and mastery. I started a project about 2 years ago to carve and make 400 spoons. This is a modest goal of which I yesterday finished my 200th spoon. Others have carved more and yet others have carved with more skill (prettier, more ornate, more traditional) but that is them and I am me. My skill has dramatically improved. My skill has not caught up with my creative eye and that keeps me going.

I don’t know anything about art. I must be honest about my making. I am a amateur in the best sense. I am too focused on my own making and creative eye that the distraction of “Art” doesn’t enter my world. This is all a way to get clearer. I don’t know what I think till I write it down.

This week in the shop I plan on finishing the stool tops for Paul, I have a job creating a butcher block cutting board in a special application for our landscaper, I’ll be making a tall narrow bookcase for cookbooks for Mary and I’ll be welding up a cart for my welder.

New Website

Welcome to my new website. Kestrel Creek is a phoenix, rising from the dead and trying to show new signs of life. I’ll try to not be so self-referencial or meta and try to be more sharing on my craft/making. Sometimes I just can’t help it though.

Today in the shop I’ll be moving wood in preparation for setting up my welding shop. I’ll be finish sanding the seats I’m making for Paul Wisdom. He makes wonderful stools, table and prayer wheels. Check them out at  http://www.dharmaworks.org/

Marketing vs Making

Maple Spoon
I've been waiting till I had pictures of the progress on the Dutch Toolbox to post here but I've had a health setback that has kept me from much progress.
Today Mark Terry came out for a visit and it was a welcome change to my routine. We are like minded woodworkers exploring the same books (By Hand and Eye) the same we sites and largely the same shop projects.
I have spent too much time organizing and outfitting my shop and too little time building and designing furniture. This is a situation the must be overcome.
Selling my work thereby making room to make more is hard and I don't like it and I'm no good at it. I am not a marketer, I'm a maker. Do we see the problem here. I can only have so many spoons. I probably have 60 spoons scattered around the house. Many will never be used. I have maybe 10 that are in various stages of completion. And this is just spoons. I have a pair of tables that could use a different home. I feel the need to move (sell) them before I can make more. Making more will improve my skill set and put me in the position to grow.
Marketing is a huge challenge. Not something I'm good at and I want to resist the notion that "I can do that". I can't and do a good job. Some of the people I consider successful at this are Mike McCoy who lets his daughter do the social networking marketing and http://www.herriottgrace.com another father\daughter team. The things I make have to go somewhere, Mary and I have too many. I'm looking for an outlet.
My friend Geoff Crimmins a photographer at the local Daily News newspaper won a gaggle of awards for his work in this year's Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press Association's annual news contest. Congratulations Geoff. To bad the newspaper doesn't make it easy to reference this. There web site is for subscribers only and even though I'm a subscriber I've had nothing but troubles and still can't login. Fail.

Why we are woodworkers

Listened to Shop Talk Live 29: Secrets for Sharp Blades and Perfect Plane Irons this morning and Asa and Matt 'waxed poetically' about what motivates them in the shop. 68147b98fd904f8e8f0301323aef0214

Asa was articulate in talked about how when one simple skill is learned and repeated, a sort of forgetting of the steps, a flow of the repetition, the noticing of little refining steps, all lead to an experience of flow or do I dare say rapture? It is the small things that bring us to the shop. Progress slowly and gaining confidence little by little focusing on little tasks.


Matt seemed to be most excited to be in the (his) shop when everything is setup correctly. The example he used was resawing with a properly tuned jointer and bandsaw. This is a skill learned after much trial an error. Now that a system is in place with upgrade tools and skills, it just added power, creativity, and expected results to resawing. The tools and techniques become invisible and background to creativity.


Will, adding my 2 cents worth to this conversation. I couldn't agree more with Asa and Matt. They bring up great points about learning to the point of automation, in a good way freeing us up for higher tasks like creativity and safety. For me there is a strong sense of "flow" when I'm in the shop. I didn't see that in my professional life and not nearly as much as I wanted in my social life. It doesn't seem to matter what I am working on, I love going into the shop. I like to start the day with swiping the floor, it gets my mind in a place to be receptive to the thought processes for the projects ahead. In some areas of woodworking I am skilled and other I'm a beginner. In the former areas, I see and refine my skills, in the latter, I am learning backs skills known to other for 100's of years.