Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Perfunctory 2011 Resolution List

At the risk of sounding too self-indulgent, I thought I'd get a jump start on everybody else and write out my resolutions for 2011.  Looking at it, I think it reflects my hopes for the future, a recognition of my woodworking shortcomings, and an account of the things I hope to improve upon . . .

1.  Any blog posts will come with the implied "This is just the way I do it -- and you may have a better way."  There are so many great artisans that I would never want to think that I have the best methods or results.  In fact, I hope you are not shy in sharing your own best practices through this blog.

2.  Now that I have a pair of over-the-reading-glasses safety glasses that fit, I will have them on whenever I use any power tool -- that includes the drill press and the router table.  Plus, I secretly think they make me look like Sam Maloof (or Buddy Holly, or Brains from The Thunderbirds, or Rockin Mel Slirrurp.)

3.  I will get a hot hide glue set-up.  I used it once and I thought it was fiddley and that it smelled bad.  Now, I am fiddley and I smell bad, so we should get along.

4.  I will pay tribute to the spirit of Woodwork magazine.  I love all the unpretentious, mad-monk, woodworkers who just make it happen.  I love the way each issue seemed to be a labour of love for the (no doubt) overworked editor who made it all happen.  It is sorely missed.

5.  I will make sure that I can sharpen every tool in my shop.  This sounds pretty elemental, but it is not universal in my shop.  Obviously, I have the basic chisels and planes down, as well as my turning tools.  But my draw knife is simply functional -- hook knife, forget about it.  Scrapers, pretty good.  Moulding planes -- I don't know where to start.

6. I will learn to French polish.  When I lived in the UK, I trained to be a pastry chef while there was a French polishing school ten miles away.  Where was my head?

7.  I will bring in a couple of guest bloggers to keep things interesting or, at the very least, interview the woodworking stars who live right around me.  I see this blogosphere stuff as a virtual Guild.  I think we can create even more if we work together.

8.  The chop saw will be banished to the garage.  Sitting in my shop it is both a nuisance and a symbol of a different stage in my work.  It, will not be missed.

9.  I will take another chairmaking or turning class.  I have some world class people within a couple of hours of my shop.  If I want to take it to the next level, I must invest the time and money in our craft instead of always just stumbling around my own little burrow.

10.  I will thank my wife more often for understanding that abandoning my old career to focus on our daughters, my furniture-making, and our property was the way to go.  She has made it happen and my daughters make me want to be better every day.  You guys are the one thing that can't be improved.

As a side note, I've deemed 2011 "The Year of the Chair" -- Shaker chairs, Stickley chairs, Windsor chairs, contemporary chairs.  And that's where I'll start with my first project of 2011. 



  1. count me in...

    at least in heart if not in hand.


  2. Thanks for this list, Chris! I enjoyed every item, even if the image of you as Brain from The Thunderbirds pervaded every subsequent image you conveyed.

  3. James, I had you in mind when I found that clip of Rockin' Mel. I love John Candy as high school freshman, Paul Fistinyourface.

  4. Beautiful girls. A very good list. I am with you on sharpening tools. That is one of my biggest short comings.

    High on my list is to dive into hand tools which I think will open up a whole new way of thinking for me.

  5. Jeff, I think sharpening is all relative. I am a "scary sharp" abrasive paper on a granite stone guy. I go up to 2500 grit (which I will argue is finer than my 8000 grit penguin waterstone.) I know that I can go sharper, but I'm not sure if it is of much practical value (I'm now ducking, waiting for the flak)

    Curved blades require so much more finesse. I can usually get there, but it's not pretty. Like anything else, I just need to spend more time on it.

    What handtools are you thinking about getting?

  6. So Tom, what hand tools does Laguna make? (poke, poke) I have a Laguna lathe that I love!

  7. Looking forward to you chair building adventures. I like the "virtual guild" idea. You should elaborate in one of your future blogs.

  8. I am first thinking about a nice dovetail saw and appropriate chisel. Next would be a good smoothing plane.

  9. Chris, thanks for the great blog. That's a fantastic list, especially the call out for Woodwork magazine. The idea of a "virtual guild" is super but would probably be viewed by my wife as another chance for me to communicate with my "friends". Don't get me wrong, she's extemely understanding, but these blogs provide a great window into the "real world" from our small isolated community high in the Rocky Mountains. Thanks again and keep up the good work!

  10. James, thanks for those kind words. I'm still noodling through what a virtual guild actually means. Maybe we already have one via our collective blogrolls and follow lists?

    I was inspired to start this blog because of the contrast between the lack of civility on the woodworking forums, and the cordiality of folks like Kari Hultman, Phil Edwards, and Tom Fidgen on their blogs. These woodworkers do a great job of putting their egos aside and just talking about what they love -- regardless of whether they are professional furniture-makers, enthusiasts, or tool makers.

    I'm constantly finding new people who do great work like Jack Plane (Pegs and Tails) and Bob Rozaieski (Logan Cabinet Shoppe) the virtual woodworking world seems to keep expanding and I'm very thankful for that. Thanks for reading!

  11. @Christoper-abrasive papers (AKA US numbering system) are roughly 4 times the Japanese/ water stone numbering system. I was so relieved when I got clued into this. "How come I get a better edge with 2400 grit than my 6000 grit stone?" Oh... my 2400 grit paper is equivalent to 10000 grit Japanese stones? I feel much better about my technique. Note to self: get 3M's 12000 grit abrasive film....

  12. Dave, I came across this somewhere as well. My biggest problem is that I work some small square of paper until it is the texture of a baby's bottom, which in addition to the disgusting mental image, is not very effective. I've tried to solve this by buying abrasive sheets in packs of 50 from some place called Online Industrial. It's a much better deal.

  13. the year of the chair... and here i was looking forward to some of the traditional japanese furniture you seemed so keen on focusing on. love your work and your blog.

  14. Anon- Funny you should say that. I just posted a new photo of a shoji lamp I made my wife. I'm thinking about some exterior lights. I just need to come up with the weatherproof paper substitute.

  15. about the weatherproof paper... here's a link:
    this is the japanese site (i live in japan now). but this product is readily available in the u.s. and is very affordable. it is coated shoji paper that comes in a variety of thickness and design. i've used it often and the beauty of it (there are a few) is that though it's pvc coated, it retains the beautiful glow of shoji paper in sunlight or lamps. easy clean up with water, weatherproof, and durability aren't bad qualities either.

  16. thanks for the list, and thanks for your sharing