Ten years ago today, I launched this blog with this single-paragraph post:
Another Woodworking Blog? Really?
Yes, another woodworking blog. Why? I started working wood only a few years ago, and I quickly began to chronicle my progress on WoodNet, a popular woodworking forum on which I am currently a moderator. But WoodNet saves threads for only one year, and I wanted a place to publicly archive pictures and descriptions of my work. And if I can help other woodworkers practice their craft a little better, then I will consider this blog a success.
A few things have changed since then.
A decade ago, it seemed like everybody was starting a blog. But these days, hobby blogs are a little passe, having been overtaken first by YouTube channels and now by podcasts and Instagram accounts. I do have an Instagram account (my handle is steve_schuler ). But I have neither the skills nor the equipment to record myself and/or my work, so I continue to plug away at the blog, adding approximately one post a month. This will be the 335th blog post.
In the short space of ten years, the way in which woodworkers get their information has changed. Internet forums used to be almost as influential as magazines. But now the days of the woodworking magazine seem to be waning (with some notable exceptions like Mortise & Tenon). WoodNet is, unfortunately, not the busy forum that it used to be. (And I’m no longer a moderator there.) There are still some very knowledgeable members who hang out there, and I drop in from time to time. But a lot of online woodworking discussion has now moved to other social media platforms like Facebook groups (about which I am ambivalent).
Ten years ago, my goal in making the blog was mostly archival: I wanted a public storage space for pictures and descriptions of projects I was doing and of techniques I was discovering. But I’m also a compulsive writer and teacher, so I suppose that I had always hoped that the blog would be more than an occasionally-viewed online archive of one guy’s forays into amateur woodworking. I wanted to help other people learn what I was learning about the craft. So I’m always pleased when one of my posts garners a comment or two from somebody who has found it helpful.
I suppose the biggest change I’ve seen over the past ten years has been in my own work. I’ve almost completely stopped acquiring tools–or at least acquiring them on purpose. I pick up old tools occasionally for one of the kids to use, or somebody gives me a tool for free. Ten years ago, my tool wish-list was pretty long. Now it might have one or two items left on it. (Fishtail chisel, Veritas skew rabbet plane RH….) I now have all the tools I need to make the kind of things I want to make.
I’ve learned a lot, too. Ten years ago the mortise-and-tenon joint still gave me fits, but I’m more confident with it now. I use a wider variety of materials, too. I still use a lot of pine, but I’ve also been able to branch out into local hardwoods that I am now able to process myself right from the tree.
Ten years ago, I was still stopping to photograph each step of the projects I built. (I don’t think I even had a working camera phone then–I was using a digital point-and-shoot for everything.) Photographing my work in progress was good for me at the time. It forced me to slow down and think about each step in the process. Seeing pictures of my work also helped me to perceive proportions and shades of color in my work that I would have otherwise overlooked. But photography takes time, and I eventually quit taking so many process pics. My goal now is to make furniture. And even though my “customers” are mostly the members of my own family, my time is still limited. I can’t afford to have half-finished projects sitting around for days on end.
Looking back over the last ten years, I’ve branched out in some unexpected ways.
I helped a student build an Anglo-Saxon lyre.
I started making pipes.
And I adopted a daughter and taught her some woodworking.
Ten years ago, I couldn’t have seen any of those things coming. Who knows what the next decade will hold?