“This ain’t my first time at the rodeo” is a saying from the prairie provinces of Canada. We also say, “don’t eat the yellow snow”—but that is another matter entirely. I’m coming down under for Wood Dust in October, and this trip to Australia is not my first. Myself and co-worker Wally Wilson visited a couple years ago now and we’ve been itching to get back. I reckon Wally and I have one of the best jobs at Veritas because we get to visit different countries around the world. More important than the countries themselves, we get to meet woodworkers from these places.
As a furniture designer and maker myself, I love nothing more than experiencing the way other woodworkers work from around the globe. From the incredible design sensibilities of Australian furniture makers to the staunch traditions of German cabinetmakers, there is nothing like seeing how others do what they do. Woodworking is normally a solitary endeavour so getting out of my own shop to see what others are doing is fantastic.
While different designs and techniques are cool to see, I also love spending time looking at the tools various craftspeople use. Are they heavy on machines with little hand tool use or do they do most of their work with hand tools alone? Though I am not a complete luddite, there is no doubt that I love hand tools and working with them in my own shop. It seems to me that some of the most successful woodworkers are those who have struck a good balance of hand and power tools in their work. I strongly believe that dedicating a bit of time to learning hand techniques will improve your work dramatically. By simply adding some hand-cut dovetails to project can take a piece to a different level.
“Australian furniture makers and craftspeople have some serious design chops”
Now it should come as no surprise to the reader that I have a favourite hand tool brand but to be fair, I love all matters of hand tools from various makers and eras. While Australian hand tool makers have their roots in Western-style tools, other parts of the world have different ideas about them. The Japanese pull their planes while we push them. Western planes are typically a one-person operation while some planes in Scandinavia are designed to be operated by two users with the master guiding the plane and an apprentice pulling it through the wood. Every country I go to teaches me more about the craft of woodworking and helps me become a better craftsperson.
For me, visiting Australia is as much about learning as it is about teaching. On my last trip I learned that timbers there on not like those I’m accustom to here in Canada. Beautiful woods like Red River Gum are stunning but not easy to work due to its hardness and swirling grain. I learned that Australian furniture makers and craftspeople have some serious design chops and build beautiful wooden objects. Most importantly, I learned that despite us living so far apart, we have a lot in common. In fact, I have found that it doesn’t really matter where a woodworker is from. We all seem to have the same disposition, sense of humour, creativity and love of working with our hands.
So as I prepare to come back down under, I’m excited. I’m looking forward to teaching and learning during my travels both at Wood Dust and some of my other exploits while I’m there. I’m excited to speak with fellow woodworkers about wood, tools and design. Mostly I’m looking forward to the fellowship and camaraderie that events like Wood Dust create and catching up with acquaintances I made during my first trip to the rodeo. I look forward to seeing you all soon.
Vic and Wood Dust
Vic Tesolin is leading a 1-day intensive masterclass on Inlay Techniques. Unfortunately, all tickets to the 1-day class have sold out, but do not fear! Vic is also hosting a Wood Dust Short Masterclass covering Finishing Surfaces with Blades. Some tickets to this special opportunity are still available, but please be quick as they are selling fast.
Vic will also participate in “The Tool Makers” yarn at the Wood Dust Yarns at The Q lecture series on Thursday evening the 18th of October. Vic will feature alongside master tool makers Thomas Lie Nielsen, Terry Gordon and Chris Vesper. Secure your seat at this very special evening, tickets now on sale.
You can also meet Vic and Wally at the Wood Dust Timber & Tool Marketplace held at the Bungendore Showgrounds on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st of October 2018. Come and chat with them at the “Meet the Makers” pavilion or at Carbatec’s Veritas stall. Tickets to the Timber & Tool Marketplace are available online now.
Come and meet Vic Tesolin at Wood Dust 2018
Hear him speak at the Wood Dust Yarns at The Q lecture series
Learn more about Vic at www.minimalistwoodworker.com
Follow Vic on Instagram @minimalist_woodworker