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prov163

Handmade by Gary Rogowski

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He is working on it but not sure what the publication date is. I thought I heard somewhere it was a book geared towards beginner woodworkers.

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On 3/1/2018 at 11:06 PM, prov163 said:

I just picked up a copy of Gary Rogowski’s new book: Handmade - Creative Focus in the Age of Distraction. As I’m sure all of you know, Gary is the director of the the Northwest Woodworking Studio. He is a teacher, lecturer, author, contributor to Fine Woodwoking and many other woodworking magazines.  Most of all, he’s a world class builder of fine furniture. 

If you’re looking for a book on joinery or design, this ain’t it.  Gary has written books on joinery but this book delves into another dimension of woodworking, one that this aging hippie and amateur woodworker appreciates - the soul of craft. 

I’m only 45 pages deep so far but this book is engaging and well-written. I’ll share my review in a few days. 

I received mine in the mail this evening and due to the time, I having to put it down after reading thru page 28. Before doing so, I thumbed to the last page to find that there are only 177 of them. If the last 150 or so are not worth reading, the first 28 make  it money well spent. Thanks @prov163 for the recommendation. 

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22 hours ago, K Cooper said:

I received mine in the mail this evening and due to the time, I having to put it down after reading thru page 28. Before doing so, I thumbed to the last page to find that there are only 177 of them. If the last 150 or so are not worth reading, the first 28 make  it money well spent. Thanks @prov163 for the recommendation. 

I’m almost through reading it and let me encourage you to pick it back up when you can. I really like his take on craft. I’ll post a review in a few days. 

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Okay, I finished Gary’s book last night. It was a good read and a nice break from the more technique driven books and articles I read about woodworking. I’ll share my impressions here for what they’re worth. 

First, and this is technical in nature, he is clearly a man with a strong vocabulary and he uses it here which I very much enjoyed. I read A LOT and appreciate it when I can tell a writer has seriously considered their word choices. I like having to look up a word or two. Using very descriptive words means a briefer sentence structure. At first it feels a little stunted but you eventually pick up his preferred cadence. 

Still here?

Gary shares his decades long foray into woodworking and the mountains he clearly loves. His passion for both and drive for excellence (not perfection) takes center stage. However, his mastery of the craft doesn’t overshadow his ability to admit his idiosyncrasies. Several times through the book I said out loud, “Yep. Done that!”

This is a book about philosophy of what we call “craft.”  It has a little Nakashima-like Zen to it. As I get older I more seriously appreciate discussions of not just how to pursue excellence, but WHY we should pursue it. Why are we drawn to wood and a specific way of working it (machine, hand tool, hybrid) and what does that inform us about ourselves? Once we figure some of that out the next step is expressing it through our work in whatever way makes most sense to us. 

I sincerely appreciated his confession of battles with perfection. I think most of us can identify with that struggle. Gary points out that the obsession for a self-defined level of perfection robs the craftsman (no gender specific intent) by setting standards he/she isn’t yet proficient enough to attain. I often look at something Marc has made, and some of y’all too, and when I try to copy it I’m disappointed at the results. Instead, I should look at my previous work and see if I’ve improved at a reasonable rate. Excellence is attained through repetition which comes by way of  practice. Once I’ve practiced as much - or maybe twice as much in my case - as those whose work I admire, then I’ll be able to produce that level of work. Gary says a couple of times that his only competitor is himself. Yep!

My only criticism is that the book is half and half woodworking and hiking. While I enjoyed several of his trailblazing stories as I love the outdoors too, not knowing the geography made them tedious after a while. I don’t mean that I didn’t gain insight into Gary personally or find relatable life lessons in those stories as well, because I did. I just think he could have talked more about design philosophy or even a little about the feng shui of his build practices. But this is Gary’s book and I consider this the most minor of flaws and only based solely on my preference. 

I highly recommend this book, with one caveat. Realize you won’t learn a thing about joinery or stock preparation, but you might learn a thing or two about yourself. 

One quick plug, and moderators if this is out of bounds please remove it. Gary is passing on his knowledge to high school students through the WIN program. Check it out at winoregon.org. 

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I couldn’t have said it better myself. Well, I could have but it would have taken 50 years of practice. Thanks man for the heads up! 

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