Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Craftsmanship of Risk

A while back, I think it was on an episode of The Woodwright's Shop with Roy Underhill, I heard working with hand tools referred to as 'craftsmanship of risk'. A bit of quick googleing brought up that it was a statement coined by the famous British woodworker David Pye. This is an idea that I can really relate to and unfortunately I am still at a stage when any piece I make is more at risk of failure then it should be. What I really mean by this is that with many pieces, be it a bowl, a spoon or anything else, I reach a point where I think "I should probably stop now before I mess it up" rather than "this is finished now and I am happy with the result". I have no doubt that this will change in time, but as a hobbyist woodworker, I just don't create the quantities that will get me to that stage any time soon.

After posting a picture of my porringer on the Bodgers forum  I received some constructive criticism. My porringer is a really good example of the "I'd better stop now" approach. Because it was my first attempt and also because I'd given more thought to the process than to the design of the piece, I think I stopped too soon and there are a few things that I wish I'd have done better. When turning a bowl you really do declare a piece finished, and it then becomes almost impossible to remount it an make refinements. So with some of my porringer problems it's just too late, but i did make a few adjustments. Having read the comments on the Bodgers forum and also looking at some more pictures of Robin Wood's porringers, I decided to carve the area between the handles so that it is flush with the turned sections of the bowls. I also made the bevelled edges of the handles a bit more pronounced.

I decided that the base of the bowl was thicker than I would like and so took a risk and decided to chop off about 5mm using a hatchet. I then smoothed the base using a drawknife.

There are still a few imperfections, but I guess they can serve me as a reminder to make sure that a piece is finished and that with this kind of craftsmanship you have to take a risk.

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