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Traditionally built furniture - maybe as a contest? Answered

I saw a quite old "home improvement" show from the 80's the other day and was stunned to remember how much we gained in ready to use parts and tools these days.
A part of the show focussed on a custom made dining table with a matching cupboard/sideboard.
The interesting thing here was that no nails or screw were used.
Tongue and groove systems, smart notches and such were used instead with just wood glue.
I admit the professionals made it look easy to use a hand planer and chisels to carve out some ornaments and details but the result speaks for itself IMHO.

We now mainly use power tools, ready to go parts like metal angles, easy screw systems and so on.
Wouldn't it be great to have a contest where people actually build wooden furniture, even if it is just a chair, by using traditional tools only?
To misuse the term call it "Organic furniture" ;)


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1 year ago

Perfectly reasonable suggestion for a contest, but the reality is that traditional tools - like planes - are actually expensive to buy (see https://www.woodcraft.com/categories/planes for examples) and require a high skill level to use and maintain. A lot of the innovations in woodworking have made the hobby much more accessible. Sure, pocket screws aren't beautiful (if exposed) but they make it vastly easier to make a frame than making mortises and tenons. I prefer contests that are inclusive of all different styles of making.


Reply 1 year ago

Fair point!
But it is just and idea and usually the end product is never really close to the initial idea in the details ;)
I guess it would be fun already to have it on a more basic level with maybe a few pros getting the idea to post an Ible for something more complex.
Like, when going back in time a bit...
As a kid one of the first thing we learend in what could be compared to the Us boy scouts, was to make whistle with our pocket knifes.
Was just a tree branch, cut properly and with the bark forming a tube to complete it.
A lot of things with wood for example can still be done on a very basic level.
I have seen a lot of nice Ible where people make garden furniture from old pallets - often with outstanding features and designs.
It is not too hard to use wooden plugs instead screws and wood glue to get things together.
And well, a hand saw and planer are great if you have them and know how to use them, so we could make them "optional" ;)
Same for things like sanding, you can do it by hand but if you must then try a power sander instead.

I guess the perfect Ibles for this would be a bit like this:
Someone builds a nice piece of something in wood using traditional tools.
This would be like a teaching class for those wanting to learn it.
And when for example a hand planer is used to finnish a plank of wood to the right thickness it could simply be mentioned to buy a finished plank from your local hardware store.
So it would make to have to dimensions somehow matching for ready to go parts where possible.
Let me give you two examples that came to mind because I watched a live making of them:
A simple chair.
You can turn the legs on a lathe or buy them ready to go.
The seat can be formed using things like a pull knife, chisel or whatever manual tool the maker prefers.
The hobby guy then can just use a rotary sander or a wire wheel on an angle grinder for the basic forming.
The only still manual and still traditional thing would be the bending of the back support using hot water and manual labour.
But if not too curved one could always use a thick fence post and a suitable saw to cut the shape out....
And well, instead nails or screws, glue and plugs are used where drilled holes or similar can't used to mate parts.
The other thing is decorative, like a wooden box for you gemstone collection.
Here the focus would be more on how to match grain patterns or decorative finnishes.
But also little things, like how to design a good drawer for it or how to hide what is possible for the hinges on the lid and body.
Where for example a knife is used to create a nice logo or decorative corners a suitable image or vector file could be used by those with a laser cutter or home made milling machine.

IMHO opinion we already focus far too much on how to solve a problem as complicated as possible.
Where a few transistors and basic parts do fine for a lighshow we now need a micro controller and code to do the same.
We take the easiest possible way out and slowly forget our roots.
I already met kids that insisted furniture comes from a Swedish company that supplies allen key with everything but can't be made yourself ;)
With all the focus on teaching here now it just seemed like the perfect opportunity to provide a bit of both.
With one Ible a person can learn two things at once.
Those who dare and have the tools can learn the traditional techiques while those thinking modern ways can substitute to get the same result.
Even for things like communication I could give the same example:
We have no problem using a SDR dongle with all sorts of electronics to listen to whatever we want.
But who here still know how to use some old wooden board, a bit of wire and metal plus a needle on a crystal to listen with an earpiece and without any batteries or power supplies to radio stations?
Back in my day every teen with a bit of interest had one and made it ...