Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Yeah, yeah, so you're all on tenterhooks about the handles, I know. But they're not ready yet. Sorry. Partially because I had to go on a chocolate hunt for the folks' anniversary on Saturday. Hmm, bit of a let down after last year, you're thinking, but they're really nice chocolates...

The reward of virtue was a couple of as-new books at greatly reduced price in the flea market. Krenov's "The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking" and "The Seven Essentials of Woodworking" by Anthony Guidice. I'm not one who naturally worships at the Krenovian altar (probably a character flaw) but I don't mind giving the guy a break and trying again. How he could bear to be responsible for all those makers of look-a-like cabinets though, is beyond me. If I was teaching and turned out all those copyists I'd feel I'd been a pretty poor teacher myself, but each to their own. The Guidice book I've been curious about ever since the first rash of neophytes popped up on the forums asking about where to buy bowsaws. I was curious to see what his persuasive argument was that was convincing all these folks it was the best option, although I had my suspicions. The latter are, alas, confirmed - no compelling argument, just another member of the faculty of the "my way or the highway" school of teaching. Not my cup of tea, but entertaining enough reading someone so very didactic and yet also so inaccurate and occasionaly just plain contradictory. He has little time for the "writers" opinions - and is telling us this in his, erm, book... Oh my aching sides! As far as dismissing the entire panoply of Western hand saws except for the "bowsaw" (what I'd call a Continental frame saw personally...) goes, well I can only suppose he's just never used a sharp one. He needs a Wenzloff & Sons, asap! Having said which, all the evidence points to the influence of another woodworking name - Tage Frid. But to the exclusion of rational thought and never allowing that maybe there might just be something in the other ways and means? Deary me; it's not a good advertisment for going and being taught by one of the woodworking greats, is it? At least, not apparently if you have a brain of your own and want to use it.

So having rubbished not one, not two, but three published authors and woodworking teachers, I know what you're thinking - I must be a lousy pupil. You're dead right; I give my woodworking teacher all sorts of trouble.

Possibly it's poetic justice that I'm self-taught...


  1. Mike Wenzloff (MikeW)8/09/2006 06:50:00 am

    I don't think Krenov ever really wanted people to copy him per se. I do know many built in other styles and were still invited back for a second year.

    Before I knew who Krenov was, my love was for early 20th century Scandanavian modern [for lack of a better term] and its revitalization in the 50s. Which I think is his influence as well. Still wish I could have taken a class with him.

    When Guidice's book made the rounds several years ago, it quickly picked up adherents. Maybe its my age or something. But many/most of the older texts have more substance to them--even the short ones.

  2. Some books you learn so much from, others you think "who is this guy fooling?" ;)
    Guidice seems to alienate a lot of readers with his "My way or the highway" approach. He also seems to swap "hats" chapter by chapter. Guess it depends which tool manufacturer is sponsoring him.......;)
    Naughty Philly

  3. Hi, Mike - no, I don't think Krenov consciously set out to make lots of other Krenovs, but equally he doesn't seem to get them to develop a voice of their own either. Now some of that is down to the students themselves, of course, but then I think to myself - who chose the lucky ones in the first place...? ;~)

    An yeah, why do the old books have so much more meat in them? Is it the curse of colour photgraphy making us all lazy?

    Now Phil, what are you suggesting? I'm sure Mr Guidice is as pure as the driven snow. Daft as a brush though. I nearly laughed myself silly last night when I read that all the people describing how to flatten plane soles had never actually done it and it couldn't be done. I went to sleep before I got to the LN sales blurb (now you've got me doing it!)

  4. Al
    I love the way one chapter he is the Japanese tool guru, the next Mr L-N. And still manages to put out the same level of glaring boo-boo's. Bet he'd say it's a sign it's hand made.......;)
    Running for cover,

  5. To give old Jim his due - he makes a better job of the Krenov style than his many imitators.



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