First, for a bit of housekeeping. There was a great amount of diversified feedback on Part 1 of this Master & Apprentice Series. I so appreciate the time you kind folks took to write up responses. It shows that people care about what is written here and the ideas conveyed.
When one or two people differ from the rest on the article, it’s perhaps a matter of their opinion. But when it’s in larger numbers as the last article, it generally falls on the writer not conveying his ideas well – his intent not being clear. Allow me to attempt a bit of that now (and I will add this to Part 1).
It’s easy to fall into the trap of citing solely one “celebrity,” and thus unfairly setting that person up to then have to be right about every process. It’s also easy to only watch one or two “celebrities” only and then assume they are correct in every process they teach.
Diversify your sources. Someone may seem a “master” because of a marketing effort, and likely they do some techniques exceptionally well. But balance that by seeing what other people say about a particular process, both on YouTube and in your online and offline communities. Generate conversation and discover new sources. Often times, “masters” aren’t immediately found in a Google search. Now, on to Part 2.
The Master and the Apprentice 2: Join the Conversation
As personal devices reach near-ubiquity, so do the complaints about how often they’re used. It’s common to hear berating on how much time is spent on an i-device rather than personal conversations.
However, whenever someone who may or may not be new asks a question that’s been queried before, there’s often a jackal attack on him to “google it first.” How dare someone start yet another conversation about water stones, bevel-up vs. bevel-down, or how to clean a Stanley #5!
One of the amazing current benefits in our craft is the expansive online community. From the old usenet groups and email chains to Reddit subs and Facebook groups, woodworkers and tool collectors have swapped knowledge online for decades.
People like Cosman, Sellers, Schwarz, and Underhill who are “masters” in various areas may not directly respond, but they’ll have information readily available online.
We have near-immediate access to some of the greatest plane builders, joiners, furniture makers, and woodworkers who have ever lived, many of whom are private message away.
Like me, you may have one or two of these “masters” living near you, but certainly not all. The online communities present an invaluable way to link up and ask questions and learn from those who have done this for decades.
Yes, some questions should be Googled first. “What does a saw do?” might be one.
But let’s look to extend some grace to those who didn’t Google and who didn’t use “the search box.” Those who choose to use their device to talk to someone online instead of in person.
Let’s engage in conversation with them. Maybe they just want a little human interaction that they couldn’t otherwise have.