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ears back, my wife and I drove from Dublin to the beautiful Connemara peninsula in western Ireland to interview the director of the Letterfrack School of Furniture Design. While we were visiting, we got in the habit of stopping at village pubs for lunch, dinner, an evening's entertainment, or whenever I needed to lay low after terrorizing the natives by driving the wrong way around the round-abouts.

I remember one pub in particular, just outside of Galway. It had three hearths, all with peat fires smoldering. Everyone came with their dogs, who dozed and scratched under the tables. Chickens stood watch at the front door, hoping the barkeeper would relax the rules and let them in so they could annoy the dogs. There was lots of music, some of it very good, some of it very enthusiastic. Lots of talk. And lots and lots of laughter.

When I  planned this woodworking forum, I thought back to that pub. This is what it should be like to visit; you should feel "at home."

Our Purpose Here
Of course, I have something of a grander purpose in mind. It's unfortunate, but with the steady demise of shop programs in  public schools and a cultural bias that people who use tools are not nearly as smart or important as those who use computers, it's become very difficult for aspiring craftsmen to learn their craft. Woodworking is a highly-developed art form with over 5000 years of history and its practitioners have amassed a huge wealth of information. If this craft is to survive another century without losing a good portion of that treasure, it will be thanks to the Internet and forums such as this.

This is why I have focused this web site and the topics of most of our Sawdust Sessions on the core knowledge necessary to be a proficient woodworker. You can find this fundamental wisdom elsewhere on the web, but I'm aware of no other site that has organized it and has made it as easy to access as the Workshop Companion.

That said, this is a learning forum. Or a teaching forum, if you have something to share. They are really the same thing; any good teacher will tell you that teaching is first and foremost an intense learning experience. If you want to get a start in woodworking, or you want to learn more about a specific area of woodworking, this is the place to come for information. I'll handle the inquiries if no one else steps forward, but you'll soon find that forums like these attract patient, generous, and experienced craftsmen who take joy and satisfaction in sharing what they've learned.

A Few Rules
So what we have here is a friendly community of craftsmen that comes together to share experience and wisdom. My role in this forum is something between a barkeeper and a school principal. As such, I have set down a few common-sense rules:

bullet Treat your fellow participants with good manners and good humor. Anyone found without manners, humor, or taking themselves too seriously will be required to click HERE and reboot.
bullet No flaming, no trashing, no contempt of any sort. Please respect the infinite variety of containers that woodworkers come in, the odd assortment of tools and ideas that they collect, and – above all – their feelings.
bullet No swearing or taking any deity's name in vain. The English language is wonderfully colorful without having to resort to clichés.
bullet Keep your mind open; there is no such thing as a "best tool" or the "right technique." When tempted to issue edicts and generalizations, please remember the words of Will Rogers, "It ain't what we don't know that's going to hurt us; it's what we know for sure that just ain't so."
bullet No sales, no advertising, no marketing, no notices for sale or trade. The purpose of this forum is to learn how to use tools, not sell them.
bullet When someone from this forum does you a favor, pay it back or pay it forward.

And that's it. Sign up or sign in, pick a category, and join a discussion. Consult the map below to see how far your fellow craftsmen have traveled. Don't mind the dogs and try to keep the chickens out. Just make yourself at home.

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ALL Categories

bullet The Workshop – All things workshop; workbenches, vises, shop furniture, storage systems, hardware bins, lumber racks, dust collection, shop lighting, ventilation, general shop safety, workshop design and organization.
bullet Techniques – How to get woodworking done; selecting lumber, jointing, planing, sawing, routing, joinery, shaping, molding, bending, veneering, lamination, scrolling, carving, sanding, scraping, smoothing, gluing, clamping, assembly, staining, finishing, and any other method you can think of.
bullet Tools – New tools, old tools, power tools, hand tools, traditional tools, weird tools, homemade tools – how well tools work, how to make them work better, how to make them do more, where to purchase tools, what to look for when you buy, adding accessories, making jigs and fixtures.
bullet Wood & Materials – The stuff we work with; hardwoods, softwoods, sawyering, drying, salvaging, preserving, recycling, fasteners, hardware, clockworks, pen parts, luthiers’ supplies, plywood, sheet materials, ready-made parts and trim, veneer, laminates, abrasives, glue, and finishes.
bullet Maintenance & Repair – Keeping tools in good working order; alignment, adjustment, maintenance, sharpening, repair, restoration, replacing parts, modifications, upgrades, preventing and removing rust and corrosion.
bullet Projects – Designs for craftsmen and the results of craftsmanship; sketches, project plans, completed projects, furniture, built-ins, cabinetry, boxes, turnings, scrollwork, inlay, intarsia, carvings, finish carpentry, boats, airplanes, musical instruments, toys, outdoor structures, and anything else made from wood with precisian and care.
bullet WC Community – News, observations, editorials, speculation, bragging, whoppers, good humor, good-natured complaints, good-natured rebuttals, good books, good videos, good web sites, testimonials, congratulations, birthday wishes, get well wishes, just plain good wishes, farewells, and tributes.

Images of Ireland courtesy of Flickr.

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 "Abundant to all the needs of man, how poor the world would be without wood."
Eric Sloane in Reverence for Wood


Forum Entrance and Guide  for the Workshop Companion,
essential information about wood, woodwork, and woodworking.
By Nick Engler.

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