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Dumbing down of Woodworking

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  • Dumbing down of Woodworking

    I have been quite disappointed to see the recent fad in live-edge lumber. Let me explain...

    There appears to be a market for those who take a large slab of live edge wood, sand its two faces, clean up the edges then bolt on a pair of U-shaped legs purchased at a big box store. And then call it finely crafted furniture. And then there are those who go quite a bit further and build a tray into which they lay that slab (the rougher the better, it appears) and pour in copious amount of different coloured resins. And they're very popular.

    Similarly, it's now very fashionable to prepare a small piece of live edge wood, oil it and perhaps shape a handle of some sort at one end and again, call what is austensibly a cutting boards or cheeze tray, "chacuterie" boards. As if changing the name gives it some additional value.

    Now, don't get me wrong. I appreciate the beauty of the wood and how it can be enhanced with resins and oils. I just can't get myself to consider such work fine woodworking and can hardly wait for this fad to disappear.

    Thoughts?
    charlton, Allegrus and 7 others like this.
    All the best,

    Marty

    Secretary of Kingston Wood Artisans Inc. https://kwoodartca.wordpress.com/

    Master Mistake Fixer (because I've made them all... at least once)
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  • #2

    Re: Dumbing down of Woodworking

    This type of cheap work has been around for quite a while I’m afraid. I have had many of these types of fad furniture pieces end up in my inbox asking about making repairs to them or refinishing them. The one possible saving light of the craft that I see (and this is just from my very narrow viewpoint), is the customer who marvels at and appreciates pieces that are truly one-offs, or have things like a hidden drawer that none of their friends IKEA pieces will have, or have been built predominantly with hand tools and have a story of an elite craftsman toiling away on their piece, a story which they then can retell to their friends.
    VIDEOS: www.youtube.com/AWoodworkersLife

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    • #3

      Re: Dumbing down of Woodworking

      I think you've read my mind. George Nakashima (as well as others) has made some beautiful live edge stuff, but almost all I see on the internet is definitely not. And while a well done (most are not) epoxy piece looks great when brand new, they won't stay that way for long. The fact is that a piece will get light scratches, dings, and the color changes of age, otherwise known as patina. Patina looks great on wood, but quite the opposite on plastic.

      For example, Black Forest built a beautiful conference room table out of 2 book matched, live edge walnut slabs. The voids around the edges & between the slabs were filled with epoxy. In total, epoxy makes up around 1/3 of the top area. It was beautiful when new, but I was in the dealership a couple of months ago & had a look at the table. Even though it's only a couple of years old & has obviously been cared for, the epoxy parts look terrible. And that's a table built by a shop where the workers have a great deal of skill.

      Every time there's a post on a forum, or a youtube showing off another epoxy/live edge/rustic piece of 'woodworking' I just have to bite my tongue & say nothing at all. So thanks for this thread that has allowed me a bit of a rant.
      smallerstick and Stephan in BC like this.

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      • #4

        Re: Dumbing down of Woodworking

        Art by committee?

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        • #5

          Re: Dumbing down of Woodworking

          I did a live edge bar a year or two ago. I recommended against it to the client, as I thought the fad was nearing its end and would soon appear dated. They just really liked the look though, and I can't blame them.

          You're asking the question "is it serious woodworking" and the answer to that is clearly "no" . But that's not always the governing factor, and indeed, for a lot of people the only question that matters is "do I like the look of it" . And to that end, I, personally, have seen a lot of live edged pieces that I thought looked really cool.

          So so what if they're not advanced woodworking? Not everything needs to be.

          And on the flip side, I've seen a lot of super ornate carved up pieces, French style, cabriole legs, the whole bit, and while I can appreciate the level of skill it takes to make such pieces, I sure wouldn't want one in my home, as I find them way too "busy" and otherwise ugly.

          Anyway, I doubt the trend will last too much longer, and in the meantime I think anything that gets people away from disposable Ikea crap is a step in the right direction - even if it's little more than a small, baby step.
          Kayak Jim and beachburl like this.

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          • #6

            Re: Dumbing down of Woodworking

            Maybe making furniture and woodworking aren’t always necessarily the same thing

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            • #7

              Re: Dumbing down of Woodworking

              It's what I call "creative marketing".
              Thanks

              Moe Fretz

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              • #8

                Re: Dumbing down of Woodworking

                If it’s a hobby you can build what ever you like. If it a business and you ignor the wishes of the market place you are doomed to failure. Personally I work the long hours I do as I enjoy making money.
                If your dreams don't scare you, you are not dreaming big enough

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                • #9

                  Re: Dumbing down of Woodworking

                  Live edge is not for me, i see it as fire wood going to waste.

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                  • #10

                    Re: Dumbing down of Woodworking

                    I have only ever made one live edge table below.. The trick and what ANY well designed and thought out piece of furniture is not to be a slave to the material. I am sure we have all fallen in love with a piece of exotic or highly figured wood.
                    And then in the shop on to treat it so preciously you can’t cut into it, and make it into a designed piece and NOT just sand a chunk of wood.
                    The latest trend of epoxy and color fill does little for me, especially with the colored balls in it.
                    Hopefully slab furniture is slowly dying down, it’s everywhere, slab prices are dropping.
                    sigpicToday's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut, that held its ground.

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                    • #11

                      Re: Dumbing down of Woodworking

                      Originally posted by davezedlee View Post
                      Maybe making furniture and woodworking aren't always necessarily the same thing
                      This.
                      I've never made nor do I own any live slab pieces but don't mind the look and even like it in some surroundings. I enjoy the sense of bringing outside in, and the beauty of the natural wood. I've never seen it marketed as "finely crafted furniture" and certainly never thought of it as a threat to or displacing fine woodworking. As others have said, if it displaces some IKEA junk that's a good thing.

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                      • #12

                        Re: Dumbing down of Woodworking

                        What is the true definition of "fine woodworking"? Correct me if I'm wrong but there is no definition and it is all opinion based. Times change and just because the newest resin fad or live edge fad or the cutting board which is now called a charcuterie board isn't a preference of yours does not mean it isn't fine woodworking. If a piece is built using a domino or dowel for the joint vs a mortise and tenon joint does that disqualify the piece as fine woodworking? What is the requirement to advertise something as "fine woodworking"?
                        Jamie www.turneddesignsbyjamie.etsy.com

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                        • #13

                          Re: Dumbing down of Woodworking

                          Talk about dumbing down. Try making 7 drinking games in a row!
                          Cheers
                          Randy

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                          • #14

                            Re: Dumbing down of Woodworking

                            Originally posted by jaywood1207 View Post
                            What is the true definition of "fine woodworking"? Correct me if I'm wrong but there is no definition and it is all opinion based. Times change and just because the newest resin fad or live edge fad or the cutting board which is now called a charcuterie board isn't a preference of yours does not mean it isn't fine woodworking. If a piece is built using a domino or dowel for the joint vs a mortise and tenon joint does that disqualify the piece as fine woodworking? What is the requirement to advertise something as "fine woodworking"?
                            I agree, what is the definition of "fine woodworking". I personally know many woodworkers who are doing this and many of them are in their 20's and early 30's. I often hear about the older generation speaking about how the younger generation isn't getting into woodworking, but then I look around and see many younger generation woodworkers doing live edge, river tables, ect. and they now get discredited because it's not "fine woodworking". I'm not personally into live edge and river tables but I am into seeing people using their hands, using their minds and imagination, using tools to create furniture and art from wood. Those "things" might not be what you are into, but it is still woodworking to me and many other young people.

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                            • #15

                              Re: Dumbing down of Woodworking

                              Originally posted by jaywood1207 View Post
                              What is the true definition of "fine woodworking"?What is the requirement to advertise something as "fine woodworking"?
                              Finesse?

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