And Thank You, Rob

And Thank You, Rob

“I just read your thank you letter about the great help Joanna and Michael are to the Woodworker’s Journal and the eZine. All I have to say is thank you for being a great leader able to keep great help and put out a very welcome eZine. I find the information helpful and the articles written in a concise and readable format.” – Bob Gilda

“I just want to say how much I enjoy Michael’s articles, both eZine and magazine. I wonder how he comes up with so many different ideas for his stories. It seems that a few years ago something was mentioned about his daughter being ill. Is she OK?” – Carol Johnston

Michael responds: “She is thriving, and thank you kindly for asking. She is in her fifth year of remission from cancer, and her third year as a student at the University of Washington.”

Michael Keller

“I am a cousin of Michael Keller’s. He has been artistic from the time he was old enough to express himself. I have a little piece of tree with the bark intact and an owl carved inside, which Michael carved for my mother many years ago while a young teen. I am so thrilled that Michael is finally getting and accepting some recognition for his works. He is humble about his talent. Thank you for giving him that recognition.” – Dawna G. Davies

Separated by a Common Language

“England and America are two countries separated by a common language” is one version of a popular quote variously attributed to George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Betrand Russell and even Winston Churchhill. Judging from the following, our own single nation of woodworkers is similarly afflicted, as even among ourselves we cannot agree on what terms mean. – Editor

“Michael Dresdner needs to be careful not to generalize. I have been harvesting urban timber for a few years. The real butchers are the real estate developers bulldozing mature hardwoods for the sake of progress. Billions of board feet of useable timber head for our overwhelmed landfills every year. You can be environmentally correct and get great wood without butchering trees. I’m sure there are some butchers, but many are trying to recycle an otherwise wasted resource.” – Bill Hook

Michael Dresdner replies: “Relax, Bill. In no way was I impugning tree cutters. In fact, they were not even mentioned, as the question was about how to process a downed log, and not about cutting down trees. For the record, the term ‘wood butcher’ is no more derogatory to me than the term ‘butcher’ for one who processes meat. One could say a butcher turns a steer carcass into steaks, and a wood butcher turns a tree carcass into ‘stakes.’ In my lexicon, the real difference is that a wood butcher starts with logs while a woodworker starts with already processed boards.”

Roget’s Thesaurus lists artisan, builder, cabinetmaker, joiner and craftsman among the synonyms for wood butcher, but we were curious as to how some of the shining lights of woodworking use the term. It turns out that disagreement is rampant. – Editor

Sandor Nagyszalanczy: “I’ve always thought of a wood butcher as a person who chops, bucks, splits and rives usable pieces of wood from logs and branches, and eschews more ‘refined’ woodworking tools and methods.”

Roy Underhill (The Woodwright’s Shop): “I get mail from many folks who describe themselves as wood butchers. It just seems to be a semi self-deprecating term for a dedicated, and often highly skilled, amateur; kind of like someone having a green thumb, or being a bookworm rather than being a professional gardener or editor. I have never encountered it in historical documents.”

Richard Jones: I’ve always thought the term describes someone who works seasoned wood. Perhaps the definition varies from region to region.

We suspect that Richard meant to say green rather than seasoned, but it is starting to be obvious that the working definition varies. Read on. – Editor

Ellis Walentine: “I have always thought of it in a more general sense, as slang for a woodworker, or perhaps a self-deprecating, tongue-in-cheek term that a woodworker might use to refer to himself, with no necessary correlation to type or quality of work, just as an accomplished golfer might call himself a ‘duffer.’ It could connote a preference for a certain type of work, like the terms galoot and neander which are used by hand tool guys. Personally, I wouldn’t use ‘wood butcher’ to describe another woodworker, unless I ducked when I said it.”

W. Patrick Edwards: “I have a different opinion, which is not so positive. I have always considered a ‘wood butcher’ in terms of antique restoration as a person who screws up the project by using nails on hardwood, epoxy glues, bad color matching, dripping finishes, wrong hardware and so on. A ‘wood butcher’ makes his money by doing the fastest work possible, with the least attention to detail or quality. ‘In by 8 and out by 5’ would be a good motto for this guy. I suppose this is not a good reflection on meat butchers, who study the beef and understand how to butcher animals. I just do not think of the term ‘butcher’ in any way should be associated with woodworking.”

Interesting. Where we apprenticed, “shoemaker” was the term for one who did hack work on antiques. – Editor

Don Weber: As far as I know, a wood butcher is a person that makes a mess of things.

Considering how easily folks get offended and how inconsistent our language is, it is a near miracle that we ever manage to say anything without ticking off someone. But since we’ve broached the subject, what does “wood butcher” mean to you? Are there any self-described wood butchers out there who care to chime in and tell us what you mean by calling yourself that? – Editor

Barbecue Paint Remover

A reader suggested using a barbecue sauce mop to spread paint remover, and this jocular fellow just had to crack wise about the concept. – Editor

“Using a barbecue mop to spread paint remover without leaving brush marks is an interesting concept, but won’t the paint stripper spoil the meat?” – Jack Russell

Not the meat we buy, Jack; in fact, it might just tenderize it. – Editor

Typo Corner

Once again we prove that we are the most frequent culprits in the typo corner. – Editor

“In the Reader’s Response you wrote ‘…to make it easy to find one year you.’ How about ‘…one near you…’ instead?” – Fred Woodward

Well, OK, Fred, since you asked so nicely. Of course, you are quite right. That was indeed a rather obvious typo, and several other readers pointed it out as well. – Editor

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