The Rough Cut Show Forum
. . . truly the Forum of choice for the Internet woodworking community
Well, I have too much idle time on my hands these days. What is a woodworker to do when they can’t be in the shop? Read, draw, plan and organize . . . that is what I have done. I am recovering from an injury that precludes me from working in the shop. I have had a chance to knock a couple of woodworking books off my “to read list”. I also spent some time digging around some favorite woodworking sites. There is a huge amount of distracting content on the Internet for every subject of one’s imagination. Like everything else, some discrimination is in order to separate the wheat from the chaff.
What an exciting time to be a woodworker. For many of us, the craft is a quite pursuit. Something explored in a small garage or basement shop, or for those lucky enough, a dedicated shop or studio. Regardless of the individual passion for hand tools, power tools or a blended approach, all share to some degree a similar experience of design and execution. Relatively new to the woodworker of today is a common fabric of discourse and reference enhancing the quest to improve a skill set and raise the level of work. The Internet provides unfettered access to, not only outstanding written and video content, but also direct interaction with seasoned woodworkers willing to mentor and champion these efforts.
I have been particularly fascinated with developments on Tommy (aka T-Chisel) MacDonald’s website The Rough Cut Show. Tommy has generated a unique and supportive venue to learn and develop woodworking skills. Three components can be identified for the burgeoning success of The Rough Cut Show. First is Tommy’s charismatic personality. It’s kind of hard not to smile and get swept along with his enthusiasm. He is unabashedly proud of his work all the while being his own worst critic. So, it is hard not to accept the challenge of this North Bennet Street School trained woodworker to “raise the level of your game”. Second is the video content (119 Episodes as of 10 August 2008) on Tommy’s site. Intermixed with humor and camaraderie is a significant level of woodworking instruction that warrants more than a second look. Third is The Rough Cut Show Forum. Woodworking Internet history was made when forum members built The Crazy Leg Federal Table. The project was designed to explore and learn embellishment techniques relative to Federal Period Furniture. Project #1, The Crazy Leg Federal Table, gave way to Project #2, a Shaker Step Stool. This is a deceivingly simple project presenting an opportunity to work on joinery, specifically dovetails. Tommy encouraged forum members to bring non-woodworkers into the shop to build this project as an introduction to the craft. Additionally, the project could be done quickly over a weekend out of pine with quick joinery or pursued at a slower pace to push all elements of execution. Now the forum is moving forward with Project #3, a beautiful blanket chest.
To say Tommy and his forum have caught my interest would be an understatement. More importantly, my interest has been piqued by forum members that are developing a method of constructive critique. Without a doubt, this has been an area lacking development in the online woodworking community. All to often comments are general in nature with “. . . good job . . . great work as always”. While this makes the builder “feel” good, it offers nothing for their future development. Constructive evaluation and critique does not need to be something fraught with sensitivities, rather a valuable process actively sought out by the builder. Ultimately, this step is as critical in a woodworker’s growth and development as the design process and project execution, because without it, there is no other way for a builder to bring to bear on the next project the lessons learned from the previous build. These are tools as essential to our woodworking as the finest saw or sharpest chisel.
With these thoughts in mind, I encourage everyone to explore the rich content on The Rough Cut Show. More importantly, join The Rough Cutter’s Forum and participate in the development of a constructive woodworking critique rubric. As a woodworker, you have nothing to loose and everything to gain!
"Evaluating our work for better work in the future is very, very important"
The Three Sisters (South • Middle • North)
Cascade Mountains – Central Oregon
Cascade Mountains – Central Oregon
Some interesting related links:
Rough Cut Show Forum Topic: Furniture Design
Rough Cut Show Forum Topic: Critiquing Our Builds
Rough Cut Show Project #1 – Crazy Leg Federal Table
Project #1 Forum
Rough Cut Show Project #2 – Shaker Style Step Stool
Project #2 Forum