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JOEL Joel's Blog

Working With Friends


Working With Friends 1

I just received a letter in the mail from TATHS, the English Tools and Trade History Society. I've been a member for years, although being in the US I don't attend their meetings. I wish I could because TATHS is an awesome group. Even if you don't live in the UK you may want to consider joining for their magazine. The letter contained the grim news that membership is down and they can't find people for two important positions. This is unfortunately an international phenomenon: young people, and maybe people of all ages, are out of the habit of joining things. And without members, organizations die.

Of course, the loss is not only to organizations. We hear a lot about the epidemic of depression and loneliness and its effect upon both mental and physical health. I firmly believe part of the reason for this is that people are not working or playing in community. Having a virtual community is better than nothing, but it's truly wonderful to join a group and hear someone greet you and ask how you're doing. You don't have to be in crisis to benefit from people being interested in other people. Having someone interested in you can make a difference. Like-minded people getting together for an activity is extremely healthy.

As I mentioned, it's not only TATHS that has suffered as we have lost the ability to connect. I was speaking to a member of the Big Apple Woodyturners, the local woodturning club in NYC, and he said that after Covid their membership took a nosedive.

I took woodworking classes for a long time. It was common to hear complaints about too much socializing and not as much focusing on woodworking as maybe there should be. This was probably a fair criticism, but I made life-long friends in that class.

If you're someone who works on their own, I really urge you to reach out and join your local woodworking club. You may go there and discover there are a bunch of old guys talking about tools. But if enough of you go out you'll find other people your age (whatever your age is) interested in the things you're interested in. Clubs reflect their members.

The other cool part about joining any woodworking organization is there a lot of tools you need on a once in a while basis. Should you really buy a shooting plane? For me as a tool collector the answer is obvious. But if you're actually planning to use a tool a lot, you should find out if this is a tool you really want. Or even better, you might be able to borrow some rarely used tool rather than buy one yourself and have it on the shelf most of the time. Club members are by definition joiners, helpers and encouragers. So you will find people to learn from; to teach; and to hang out with. Some clubs have lots of tool collectors by circumstance; some clubs are expressly about tool collection. Joining them not only will let you experience the fun of seeing and playing with rare tools, you may have find people selling you fabulous tools at the friends-and-family discount. Remember we take our knowledge and we take our tools, we use them for a while, and then we have to pass them on to the next generation

In a few weeks, I'm going to Amana for the Handworks Show. We'll have with us a working prototype of our new treadle lathe, although we're at least one more prototype or so before actual production. The prototype works pretty great, but as we use it we find subtle stuff that we should change before production. But the real reason for me going to Amana is to see people I've known for 20 years and meet new people. It's a wonderfully social event. You may be used to poking around craft fairs for the one guy who makes something you're interested in. But they'll be a half a dozen makers of just about specialty you can think of. And when you mention to the person next to you that you're thinking of getting a treadle lathe, they won't stare at you blankly (although they might wonder why you getting something so high tech when a pole lathe is perfectly fine).

Join the conversation
Thanks for the boost for local clubs. Its a comon problem. May I sugest you add a page to your website for a simple list of clubs for a general refference.

08/09/2023 Wm R Robertson
I totally agree! So many factors have caused such a downfall in organizations and people meeting in person to share friendship and knowledge. That is one reason I’m heading to Handwork’s, just to hang out. See you there Joel., Bill
08/10/2023 Paul Starita
In Victoria BC population100,000 we had 100 members of our club. Now in PHILADELPHIA we don’t even have a club
08/10/2023 michael michalofsky
i am in westchester
where is my local woodworking club?
thanks michael
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The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.
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