Knowing is not Doing


I am a self proclaimed bibliophile. Especially when it involves woodworking. At my desk I am surrounded by shelves of books and magazines. Stacks of magazines, magazines on my computer. Out of print magazines. Old woodworking magazines purchased on eBay that smell like mothballs and old spice. Do I have a problem? Well, yes as a matter of fact I do. But it isn’t the magazine collection.

The problem? All the years that I have been a subscriber I have never built a single project from one of those magazines. Why? It could be the time and money equation but that is a lousy excuse (even if it is partially true). It could be that I merely enjoy living vicariously through the skilled hands of others; you know, learning for the sake of knowing how it is done even if I don’t plan on doing it (this at least allows one to talk the talk). It could be that I was intimidated. Nearly all of the projects in the “fine furniture” magazines just seem beyond my skill level. That’s my excuse anyway.

I was reclined in my office chair staring off into space when my eyes let upon that grand collection of periodical woodworking bliss when this revelation ran through my mind like a fat lady at a bake sale. What was I going to do about it?

Nothing. I went to bed.

The next day however I received the post (British influences, AKA Furniture and Cabinetmaking) and lo and behold another woodworking magazine to add to my collection. My previous guilt returned and on the way from the box to the house I determined that I would make the cover project (because I’d not had the time to read anything else). It just so happened to be a modern lounge chair by Caleb James. What the hell is a modern lounge chair?

Well it’s modern. Not this modern but you know era modern. And it’s a chair that sits low to the ground. The seat is woven paper cord. Never heard of it? Me either.

And here is my second grand revelation. I should have heard about it. A little research confirmed my suspicion; all of the titles in my collection include some form of modern furniture and many of them have articles on various forms of woven seat material. I felt a lot like a man who looks at himself in a mirror and then walks away forgetting what he looks like. What good is it to read it and not do it?Clearly I had not understood that the true value of the magazines wasn’t merely knowledge transfer but action transfer. To truly understand it you have to do it even if it seems beyond your grasp.

I ordered all of the bits to make the hardware from McMaster-Carr. I drove to the local lumber yard and overplayed for the timber (Australian influences; AKA Steve Hay). I have read and reread the article so many times I can almost quote it. And as I progress through the project I’m gaining confidence in my ability.

Now I’m looking at all of those magazines in a different light. And looking forward to what I will learn when the theory moves into practice.
What project from a magazine or book would you most like to build?


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