It was unavoidable while involved “up to my ears” in restoring the Borealis that I should accumulate a “bit” of experience at woodworking. The Borey was built out of wood… and remade and remade again and again. It was either learn to be a woodworker or die.
The more experience I collected the better I became at handling wood as a medium. I once even thought I could make things out of wood and sell them… well, I’ve always been an idiot I guess… or I would not have been a musician. That doesn’t work either, by the way. You may be able to barely exist but that is about the extent of it.
I have occasionally done woodworking jobs for other people… as some bizarre kind of penance, I guess… but it is very hard to secure enough business to earn any useful amount of money.
There is another big problem associated with attempting to work as a craftsperson too. It is the same problem which plagues every other occupation which involves any sort of manual skill. The item you are making can always be bought much cheaper in the third world… particularly if it has any artistic content.
If it is a utilitarian item economic pressures will force you to produce it cheap and fast. Much to our collective detriment we live in a society which not only prizes but literally worships cheapness and its resulting shoddiness above all things. The Gods help you if you take any pride in your work (unless your work happens to be discovering new ways to maximize profit at any cost). I haven’t checked lately but I suspect there is a class currently being “taught” in public schools… and by any other institution that disseminates what passes for “knowledge” these days… which instills in our new generations reverence for lying and competing to see who can “work” the most cheaply and shoddily. Sacrificing time in pursuit of any level of skill above the lowest level is stringently discouraged.
As far as my woodworking is concerned my goal is to make the very best example of whatever it is that I am building… to the pinnacle of my ability… and continue to learn from the attempt. I do not expect, and certainly will not receive, any compensation for my work over and above my own satisfaction at having done a good job.
Jinna and I now live on our small vintage Bristol trawler. One of my recent woodworking projects was the building and installation of three cabinets in our galley to contain food. In keeping with the obvious nautical theme of the boat the first cabinet features a “manatee” door. The door depicts three manatees… a bull a cow and a calf… hand carved in bas relief. The door panel is made of American Black Walnut harvested from a farm in Coshocton, Ohio. It is quite attractive knowing where the actual tree stood from which the wood was harvested.
The second door is made of Red Oak with a bas relief carving of a Hawksbill Sea Turtle. I didn’t know the turtle personally but I’ve certainly seen a lot of them on our travels at sea. The Red Oak was born and raised on a small property we were lucky to be rid of (housing bubble you know) in Tennessee.
Not wanting humankind to be left out (although in the best interest of the planet that might not be a bad idea) of the triptych the third door features a Newfoundland dory fisherman jigging squid with a hand line. This door is carved in Cherry from a tree we harvested on my farm in Tuscarawas County Ohio during the early 1970s.
I know these cabinets would never be acceptable in the “real modern world” but this boat is MY world… so I don’t give a damn!
Check back for the next post soon…