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JOEL Joel's Blog

Makers, Making, and Maker Faire - Sept 21-22 2013 in NYC


Makers, Making, and Maker Faire - Sept 21-22 2013 in NYC 4All Woodworkers are makers but not all makers are woodworkers. In fact, most aren't and there is nothing wrong with that.
I started building furniture because I couldn't afford to buy furniture I liked. Also I'm interested in history so historical methods of woodworking are a natural fit for me. But I used to build live steam models, models in paper, I owned one of the first personal computers in the country, and I cook a lot. The people I work with do blacksmithing, build bikes, electronics, and other stuff. Some of the stuff we do because it's fun, most of the stuff we do is because we can't afford to hire anyone to do it, and it's fun. For example this business started as a website to show off my programming skills. Later I realized that all the much larger serious competitors I had used custom build eCommerce sites. Since I happen to like programming, over the years I wrote our entire website. From scratch, using no canned packages. I still do it. I typically program something at night after dinner when I come home from work and after I make dinner. I live in an apartment without a woodshop so I don't have the option of going to the basement for a few hours and working wood, but the urge to make is the same. Of course the end result of writing our own website is that it does what we like, it's structured to be easy to maintain, I think some architectural ideas in it our unique, and maybe selling the software is a new business one day. The down side is that if anything goes wrong I get a call and I have to fix it pronto. Still it's fun. I like making things and this is one more thing I can make. During the day I try to find some time to do a little carving and at night I program.
Makers, Making, and Maker Faire - Sept 21-22 2013 in NYC 5There is a theory that the human desire to make things is innate and doing-it-yourself, DIY, homemade, etc. has been around since the first person in a cave decided to make their own fire instead of sit by the tribal fire. A century ago makers read "Work" magazine, and as you can see from the Work Magazine Reprint Project the scope of projects was at all levels and incredibly diverse. In the twentieth century special wood magazines took away a lot of the readership that just wanted to make furniture but in the US "Popular Mechanics" had all sorts of projects from electrical to yard work, to a fair number of woodworking projects. You see a lot of people who want to build a table just want to build a table and not worry about dovetails, tusk tenons, and french polishing. The split in audiences came in the US in the 1980's when Fine Woodworking started up and began writing about - well - fine woodworking. Popular Mechanics told you how to nail together a chair, but Fine Wood taught you how to bend the wood and inlay the chair.
Fast forward about 30 years and Popular Mechanics doesn't cover many woodworking projects - the reason is that lots and lots of people stopped needing to build simple furniture when they could buy it for less than the cost of materials at Ikea and places like that, and people work a longer day, and the person with a really serious interesting in woodworking, beginner or advanced, is reading magazines like Wood, American Woodworker, Popular Woodworking, or Fine Woodworking. Nothing wrong with any of that.

But as Popular Mechanics and other magazines stopped publishing projects of any sort there was a demand for projects from stifled makers. That demand has been filled for the past decade by Make Magazine.

Every year Make Magazine gets everyone together to show off their work at Maker Faire. There are several fairs around the country, the biggest one being in San Francisco and the second biggest in Queens at the Hall of Science. At the show people can show off what they have made, see what other people have made, and watch demonstrations on how things are made. There of tons of things for grownups and for kids to see and do. This year for the first time we are a sponsor of the show and will have a booth at the faire.
We don't know exactly what we will be selling in our booth yet but you an be sure it will be wood related. But even so what drew us to the show is that being woodworkers is just one aspect of our personality.

So when you visit us at Maker Faire this fall, and I sincerely hope you do, and I think you and the family will have a grand time of it, we will not only be showing off our tools, products by other makers we carry, and stuff to inspire for the kids to make stuff. I'll also be showing off our new retail sales system - which if I start writing it in the next couple weeks should be mostly done by the show. I hope. Ok - we aren't really showing it off, we need to be able to use it. 8 weeks or so - this is going to be interesting. And a challenge, and Fun!.

N.B. I built the fort shown at the top of this page when I was twelve. The walls are matchsticks, the rest is balsa. The roof of the bunkhouse is shingled in individual rows of balsa shingle. Inside the bunkhouse are bunk beds, a cast pot bellied stove and other stuff you can't see. The blueprint for the fort was F Troop and I originally planned to build the entire fort. The watch tower came down during Hurricane My Parents shortly after I left home in my early 20's. I never did get around to repairing it. The second picture is a dollhouse scale of a working shave horse. I made this (along with a lot of other miniature tools) in my early teens. Making stuff is fun!

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