Here at Woodworker’s Journal, we’ve been digging deep in our archives to put together our largest collection to date of almost-forgotten projects, articles, tips, techniques and wood science. But the archives where we’ve been digging aren’t exactly Woodworker’s Journal archives — at least, not really. Confused?
Longtime readers may remember when two different magazines — Woodworker’s Journal and Today’s Woodworker — combined into the publication you know today as Woodworker’s Journal. Once that happened, Today’s Woodworker ceased publication.
During a recent visit to the Anderson Horticultural Library at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, the librarian was kind enough to show me their collection of Hough’s American Woods. The pages you see pictured do not contain photographs – they’re actually three pieces of veneer for each species, along with a description and information contained in the booklets.
Last summer and fall I found myself orchestrating the filming of a series of DVDs. I consider the resulting videos to be truly significant in terms of teaching woodworking in a manner that is unsurpassed — they are comprehensive, cohesive, consistent and entertaining. In addition, they have supporting content on the internet, all of which blends together to create an interactive product that has been unavailable until now. I also nearly had a nervous breakdown. How did this happen, you ask? It’s a bit of a long story…
As many of you have likely heard, the New Yankee Workshop has just announced that the current season will be their last. I have to say, that is sad news to me. Norm Abram, the Yankee at the center of the workshop, has been such a positive influence on woodworking, for so many years, that his absence will be significant. (He will be continuing with the This Old House show.) I am confident that there are a good number of folks out there who are making sawdust and enjoying the craft due primarily to the influence of Norm and the NYW.
Although the power of the television media is surely one of the reasons that Norm has become a household name, it is the man behind the persona that I feel made the difference. While Norm and I are not good buddies, I have talked to him often enough to know that what you see is what you get. I had the good fortune one day to interview him for the Journal, and in the middle of some serious questions, I teased him by asking him if there were any woodworking projects at home that his wife was waiting for him to complete. There was laughter throughout the workshop, Norm got a good chuckle out of it and then answered the question, straight up. (Not currently, but there had been a couple …)
Over the years, I have used the term krenovian many, many times as I’ve described a piece of woodworking. And it is a testament to the remarkable influence of James Krenov – the builder, the teacher and the author – that folks know exactly what I mean.
Woodworking has lost an enduring pillar of our craft. This week, at the age of 89, James passed away. While it is of little consequence to those who are in mourning, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to his family, friends and his legions of students. The pain of separation is a certainty in life, but that doesn’t diminish its power. There’s no doubt that James Krenov’s influence will continue. His work will be referenced and studied, copied and critiqued as it has been for so many years. But the force of his character and the spark of his creativity has been lost to us, and that is a sad thing indeed.