Why we make things and why it matters

Finished Peter Korn’s book “Why we make things and why it matters” tonight. It was a wonderful read which I can fully and hardily recommend to anyone interested in living a ‘good’ life and making things. He eloquently weaves a narrative that has making things as the warp of a canvas with common daily activities threaded throughout to produce what a feeling of goodness. He describes three types of makers. First person, the original maker. Second person, a person experiencing the maker’s craft. Third person, the writer, critic, magazine - anybody viewing a facsimile of the object. Each has a place in the work. He describes the work of a maker as the shaping of a culture, little by little. A maker either reinforces or pushes the boundaries of what is considered normal in a culture. If the maker is a little out there, then the second and third person in this chain can reinforce or not, the makers notion. This is how design evolves.

This book is also an autobiography. Peter thought early on, that being a master craftsman meant that you’d be enlightened. And so went his search for meaning. But Peter so found out and shared that some master craftsmen are a-holes. Really what he was searching for was a good life. Something we all are after. We create our little part of the world each day. Each choice we makes adds up to our life. We are both a maker of things and a maker of our life.

Great writing and a great narrative. this I’ll defiantly reread.


Thinking more about the craftsman. Read wonderful article today on the problems of our current system of capitalism by David Simon: 'There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show.'

It got me thinking about the contrast between life as maker and life as manager.

The diminishment of labor. This is where we are headed as a society. As a maker, I see my labor as the main contribution to my craft. As capitalism diminishes labor because it is expensive, the place of the maker/laborer/craftsmen is lowered and has less value. The contribution the maker/laborer/craftsmen can make in a capitalistic project is tremendous if brought in at the right time. Why should a designer/financier/manger be in the position to receive more of the recognition and reward for a project? It seems that there are two positions. The maker/laborer/craftsmen and the designer/financier/manger. Dirty and clean. In the field and in an office. Less didactically trained and more formal eduction. Connected with materials and abstract thinkers. One benefits from the other. Not one is superior to another.

These are in complete thoughts on this subject. More to come.

Hand and Eye

Looking at design with the help of George Walker and Jim Tolpin and a group of woodworkers from Fine Woodworking. I'm excited to learn about design. Studying design. How it helps.

Worked some on the Dutch Toolbox, adding the front pieces. Tomorrow I'll add the locking part of the front shelf.

Front attached.






I've been considering what to do with my online presence. I imagine grandiose plans and have become paralyzed by this process. One thing is proceeded by another and I can't seem to get to the base or first thing to do. So I give up and I'll live with what I am. I'm:

  • Struggling woodworker, struggling to improve my craftsmanship
  • Practicing Zen student, always broken
  • In a loving relationship, Mary is a super human
  • Disabled, trying to except new level of health
  • A reader, discovering metacognition

I'm probably other things I'm not aware of. But but, stay calm and chive on.

"The Chocolate Cake Sutra, ingerdeients for a sweet life" by Geri Larkin

I want to be happy. I choose happiness. This may sound childish and self centered but I want you to choose happiness too. Finished reading "The Chocolate Cake Sutra, ingerdeients for a sweet life" by Geri Larkin and what a good book it was. It was about behaviors. Giving joy, ethical behavior, tolerance, the capacity to keep going, clearheadedness, crazy wisdom, and being adventurous. Behaviors I aspire to.

In "The Chocolate Cake Sutra" Geri Larkin, an ordained Zen priest, writes about her trial and tribulations using them as a 'finger pointing to the moon' to illustrate and wake us up to the wonder that is all around us. She helps us by writing about the tools for seeing and interacting with this wonder. Not always straight laced, in fact a self proclaimed potty mouth, she shares her adventures and is absorbed by the ordinary. A excellent read.

Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks


I'm nervous. Publicly announcing a challenge I made to myself. Today I want to share my plan to "Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks". I got this wild (no so weird) idea from Justin Miller and a post he did over at Lifehack called "How to Save Yourself $21,000 and Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks". I'm not sure about the money but the knowledge and understand can't hurt me. Using Evernote to keep track and I am a little ahead of my schedule. 7 books in 4 weeks so far. Book 7 was The Fault in Our Stars.

I'm not sure what to say about The Fault in Our Stars. Funny and sad about teenagers with cancer. Fictional. Snarky, well written, full of life had me crying, seriously.

This challenge is going to get harder as the weeks progress. Currently I'm reading without a focus on specific genres. That may come.

Would you care to join me in this challenge? Do you have any experience with 52 books in 52 weeks? Book recommendations?

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.