Sawzall. Mortise and Tenon. Battledore. Repoussé. Patina. Camber. Kerf. These aren’t just nonsense terms your grandpa used to keep you kiddos on your toes. These are real Ron Swanson tested things. Real terms used by professionals of craftsmanship. That something is woodworking, metal working, glass blowing, carpentry. Shop talk. And dammit if it isn’t one of the most satisfying things a man can do.
Fixing something with your own two hands is a purely satisfying feeling. Once you’ve mastered purely satisfying, you can move on to magic: rapping like Kendrick, or crafting something practical and handsome with your bare hands. Turning those soft mitts into rough and tough paws that mould metal and lumber to your own divine will? I got sawdust inside my DNA.
Just like writing lyrics, time is what it takes to woodwork. Time and effort. Thought and care. It’s not for the impatient. Some projects, like shelves, take a half hour. Some take weeks, or even years (looking at you, Lincoln log cabins.) There’s work to be done before you even buy the wood. Plans upon plans. Redrafting and redesigning. Remembering to factor in the width of the wood. Forgetting that you can’t angle jig a 1x1 or else you’ll split it. Guys. I love free-styling, but let’s be honest: planning is huge.
Ask any number of carpenters or blacksmiths, tanners or glass blowers why they do what they do. It’s almost a guarantee they do it for the love of the game. It probably started out as a hobby, or a construction job, maybe a family trade, and turned into a deeply rooted love of crafting and creating. Over the years, they got better at certain things and began to hone their skills as a novice, many projects and years later deemed by others to be a master. Though most would say that learning never stops. Perhaps they haven’t ever made money on their “hobby,” or perhaps they have made a comfortable living from it after they left the 8 mile.
There is no end to knowledge about woodworking. There is always something more intricate to be built or invented. The depths of wisdom to be learned from your own experiences is ceaseless. Mistakes will always be made. Edges can always be finer, tighter, sharper. Whittling a toy for your son could be a bit neater. Lathing a bowl for your brother could be a little smoother. Carving a canoe…well. We all need a hand carved canoe. Hanging your coat every day on a red oak coat rack you willed into being from a single piece of tree? That’s living.
Building something with purpose and practicality is just the basics, and yet the benefits are immense. Building something with style, design, sturdiness, and wisdom is art. We all want to build something that lasts, just like Kanye. Start small. Make a box to hold your wallet and keys. Build up to shelves, tables, chairs, or even cabins. Enjoy the thought process of making plans, making cuts, and using your hands. And once you are skilled enough, you can slide those freestyles into all your projects when the plans don’t go as planned. My career of rapping about woodworking is just beginning.