Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What is WoodCrafting?

As I am in the process of creating more items for sale in my WoodCraft Creations store I started thinking about Logos and the name I chose for the store a few years ago. Basically at the time I was a beginning woodworker just dangerous enough to use some power tools and lucky enough to have kept all my fingers intact. I knew I didn't have enough skill yet to build fine furniture or upscale cabinetry but I had a good imagination and some engineering skills so I could figure out how to make small items like shelving and displays we needed for our craft show booths.

I knew I have always enjoyed designing, creating and building things. And it just happened that I started making things from wood. I think wood is a most unique material in that it can be shaped fairly easily into almost any form but has character unlike man made materials like plastic because it came from nature and life. Wood comes in many species each with their individual characteristics, colors and spots, weakness and strengths.

I think the art of WoodCrafting is really the process of taking raw wood material and transforming it into forms that can both functional and artistic. If executed properly the transformed wooden shape will become an object that serves a new function be it functional as in a child's toy or a piece of furniture. Or it can just become an art form to be enjoyed
by the sense of sight, touch or smell. In truth I think wood can be transformed into almost any form by Woodcrafting and only limited by the imagination and skill of the WoodCrafter.

I truly believe WoodCrafting needs to begin with the design of the piece. The design must consider the function of the piece. Will it be a practical design or more artistic and that will determine the cost and labor allowed. Secondly the design needs to account for the characteristics of the raw wood material to be used for each basic part of the design. How will a particular species of wood work towards the final finished item. If the design will require joining multiple pieces of wood what types of joinery work for each connection.

The WoodCrafter then begins the process of transforming the raw wood material into the desired object using three basic steps. The first is the carving, cutting and shaping the raw pieces of wood into the basic forms.

The second is joinery or connecting the basic forms together into more complex shapes and forms. Not all items require joinery but rather are made from a single solid piece of wood such as a bowl carved from a tree. But most items require joining individual pieces together in order to make things not possible or practical from a single piece of wood. The classic joinery method is dovetails considered to be a mark of a craftsman to be able make seamless dovetails by hand. But joint can be as simple as two boards glued together. Each method has it's place and appropriateness to execute the design goal and idea.

The last step is the finishing, sanding, staining, painting and final shaping. It is in this step the WoodCrafter brings back and out the life of the raw wood material to the final product. I generally believe it is almost wrong to cover up wood with opaque paints that hide the natural grains and character of the piece. I love how an oil based finish make the grain pop. I tend to like my final finish to be glossy. But I concede there are some items that require a painted covering for the final fit and form needed to serve it's purpose .

So in retrospect I believe I picked the right label for myself and I think I am rather proud to call myself a WoodCrafter. I get to use my design and engineering skills to create unique ideas. Then I get to apply my woodworking skills to transform those ideas into reality.

I hope as I hone my WoodCrafting skills my work will become more artistic. I think creating wood items that are both functional and artistic is the measure of ones WoodCrafting skill.


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