Crafting the Future

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This article is from Issue 92 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Woodcraft Magazine turns 15 this year and we couldn’t be prouder. Technically speaking, this child isn’t yet old enough to legally drive, but she’s wise beyond her years. To celebrate, we’re showcasing our best Tips & Tricks from the last decade-and-a-half, having splashed them with color. Consider this a refresher if you’re familiar with some of these tips, and maybe share them with an aspiring newbie!

I find that this recent reflection on the past has me future-gazing. (And what sounds more futuristic than “the year 2020”?) If you think about it, woodworking is a rather staid industry. Our primary power tools have changed little over the past century, and hand tools have kept their basic design legacy even longer. Nevertheless, the past 15 years have seen rapid innovation. Advances in manufacturing technology have produced fast, efficient methods of joinery like Festool’s Domino and Kreg’s pocket screw system, which have made it easier than ever for people to get into “making.” Hyper-accurate digital measuring devices keep us precise, while Sawstop’s tablesaw-brake technology keeps us intact. And CNC continues its forward march of machines that can do more, faster, and for much less money. It’s an interesting time.

I wonder what woodworking will look like in another 15 years? Surely smarter machines will become yet more efficient, and innovation will continue to unfold at a steady rate. Who knows? Artificially intelligent robots may well be able to build beautiful furniture. Even so, I don’t worry about the soul of our craft. I feel that the human need to work with our hands will always pull us to the shop. If working wood is in your blood, you don’t build simply to have a new set of cabinets or a dining room table. You do it because the work focuses and sharpens the mind. It keeps some of us out of trouble.

As part of our anniversary, we want to lay the groundwork for the woodworkers of tomorrow. To help someone get started with a few good hand tools, see p. 31. Build the gameboard (p. 47) and the bed (p. 35) to encourage kids to play in the real world sometimes, and to rest well in fun too. Mark your work for your descendants (p. 54), and try to leave a few trees behind when you depart (p. 72).

To paraphrase Bob Dylan, “the times they are still a-changin’.” And, as they do, Woodcraft Magazine is pushing forward to keep woodworking alive and well. Here’s to the future!


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