By Hand and Eye

One of the things that many woodworkers find very challenging is designing projects. And what is particularly challenging, if not outright mystifying, is understanding how to design a project that feels proportionally balanced.

If developing good proportions and balance is something you have trouble with, I would like to suggest that you check out "By Hand & Eye" authored by Jim Tolpin and George Walker, published by Lost Art Press. 

By Hand & Eye explains how classic proportions and order were developed, and how they were applied historically in architecture. This context helps remove the mystery surrounding what often seems like confusing mathematical formulas. 

By Hand & Eye does well at presenting the information in a logical and comprehensive manner. This is important as it makes the information mentally digestible, which clarifies the subject rather than confounding it.

I really like the chapters "Waking Up Your Eye" and "Proportions Made Simple." They do well at presenting the base information, and demystifying it, which will help you understand the chapter "Classic Orders" later in the book. The information really is dispensed in a logical order of progression which makes it comprehensive. 

Toward the end of the book, there are 10 projects that include explanations of how the classic proportions apply. I recommend that if you are just developing your eye, you really should build the projects. It is only through practical application that you will get a full understanding of how the proportions "feel" when expressed in a tangible item. 

I highly recommend By Hand & Eye. I have other books that share the same technical information, but this has to be the best book that shares the information in a format that is directly related to the woodworking and furniture making community. The fact that it is relatable, helps tremendously in making it understandable. 

For an entertaining and distilled version of understanding proportions, check out this stop-motion video "Design by Hand & Eye" narrated by Jim Tolpin. You will not only be entertained, you will be amazed at how much clarity it brings to understand proportional relationships. 

Disclaimer: I purchased "By Hand & Eye" at full price with my own money. I have not been compensated in any manner for my review or endorsement.  My opinion of the contents are measured against my own experience designing and building as a contractor and professional woodworker since '97. 

Your friend in the shop,

Todd A. Clippinger

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Woodworking Interview With Madison Swords

I love talking to other woodworkers and hearing how their journey in the craft started. I recently met Madison Swords, and I just loved his story of how he got started in woodworking, so I had to share it with you. 

Madison is a self-taught woodworker and he learned everything from YouTube. I was not only impressed with that, but the fact that he choose to go the hand tool route, and his for his first furniture project, he choose to tackle a Greene & Greene side table. I was absolutely blown away!

Madison Swords built a Greene & Greene side table as his first furniture build, all with hand tools, some of which he made himself. 

In talking to Madison, it is clear he really gets it. He snaps up the knowledge and puts it to work straight-away in his own shop. He exhibits a wisdom and perspective beyond his years.

I think his journey into woodworking is impressive, entertaining, and inspirational. And so I bring to you an interview with Madison Swords. 

I hope you enjoy!

Your friend in the shop-

Todd A. Clippinger

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Get Woodworking Week 2015

This week, Feb 15-21, 2015 is Get Woodworking Week and it is a movement that has gained some momentum in just a few years. It is a week in February where the woodworking bloggers and content producers provide an extra push of encouragement to get people out to their shops and start woodworking. 

I rarely get time to participate in the movements of the woodworking community at large, as everything seems to hit right at the worst moments with my business schedule. But this year, for Get Woodworking Week I was able to crank out a video to share some thoughts on getting into the shop and starting your woodworking journey. 

I am not really clear on how it started, but I think Get Woodworking Week was the brainchild of the guys over at the Modern Woodworkers Association, Tom Iovino from Tom's Workbench seems to be at the epicenter of it all. But no matter, it is a great idea. Be sure to check in with the MWA and Tom's Workbench to keep your thumb on the pulse of everyone that is supporting the Get Woodworking Week movement. 

I hope you find what I share insightful and motivating. 

Your friend in the shop-

Todd A. Clippinger

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Jim Heavey Interview By Andy Chidwick

Our good friend and furniture maker Andy Chidwick, known as the Woodworking Coach, has been touring with The Woodworking Shows once again and doing interviews along the way.

His latest interview is with Jim Heavey from WOOD Magazine who is also touring with The Woodworking Shows. In this video Jim talks a little bit about The Woodworking Shows and what he is teaching in his seminars. 

Be sure to check out The Woodworking Shows schedule to see if there is a show near you. If you get a chance to go, the shows are always a lot of fun. There are lots of seminars and special deals on tools by many vendors.

You will also have the opportunity to meet woodworking luminaries such as Andy Chidwick, Jim Heavey, Bob Lang, Chuck Bender, Glen Huey, Roland Johnson, and others. The instructors are very approachable and you will have a chance to personally talk to them and get woodworking advice. You will find they are pretty regular guys, they just get to do woodworking for a living instead of a hobby. 

I have a lot of work to do, so out to the shop I go!

Your friend in the shop,

Todd A. Clippinger

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Coming Soon: THE MAKERS by the Handmade Movement

As a craftsman and an artist, I am not a fan of any reality shows. I can recognize that they do have one positive aspect; they expose the public to various special interests such as cooking, custom motorcycles, and most recently furniture design. But I do not care for the negativity and drama they produce to entertain and captivate an audience. I will not watch them. 

I even say this as a person that occasionally receives invitations to be on such shows, but I refuse to put myself in such caustic and negative situations. I live in a challenging but positive environment, and I have chosen to surround myself with other craftsmen and artists that are talented, well grounded, positive, and passionate about what they do.

The drama we experience is different than what you see on reality TV in that we have projects and schedules to juggle, deadlines to meet, and bills to pay. But for the most part, we avoid negative people as they kill creativity, productivity, and are just a drag to be around. They create high-risk business situations and cut your bottom line.  

It is from my own experience of making a living by designing and building, that I have come to appreciate the talent of others. This is why I am excited to see TV programs come along, such as A Craftsman's Legacy and the soon to be released online series THE MAKERS.

THE MAKERS has a rich, cinematic look to it. As I watch the trailer, I can relate to these craftsmen (includes women) because of the way they talk about their craft. The only drama generated here are the richly captured scenes of artists in their studios and shops sharing their passion. The trailer alone is inspirational enough that it makes you want to head to the shop and not just build projects, but build a legacy.  

I can relate to them because it is the life I live, as well as the craftsmen I have surrounded myself with. It is great seeing artisans and craftsmen being highlighted to give the public a greater understanding of the effort, skill, and passion in everything they do as they make a living. This is why I look forward to THE MAKERS video series. 

The goal and stated mission of the producers (who are craftsmen in their own right as photographers and cinematographers) is "to preserve and share these age old crafts." I appreciate that the series is highlighting the crafts and built on a positive foundation. 

Check out the site: The HANDMADE MOVEMENT I think you will love it, and keep an eye out for the  THE MAKERS series. These videos highlighting modern day craftsmen beats reality TV shows with a pretty big stick in my opinion. 

The last word I got was the online release was coming in March. I hope you enjoy the trailer until then.

Your friend in the shop,

Todd A. Clippinger

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