Fabula Lignarius

Category: portrait

Media Coverage

After prolonged effort it is nice to see that the result of your labor is appreciated by a larger public.

Journalist Michiko Kurita wrote an article about our work in the EU MAG. This is an online magazine for the Japanese delegation in the European Union. You can read it here.

article EU MAG front

As craftsmen it is good to receive attention in the media. Out of experience I have long abandoned the idea that ‘if you just do great work all the work will come to you’. That might have been true for some people at some point in time but in todays society and economic climate a different approach will certainly yield better results. I would love to be just the cutout guy working for an outfit who only does super high-end work, remain the unknown craftsman who only needs to focus at the woodworking task handed to him. Unfortunately my path has brought me in a different position. One where I need to take responsibility for complete projects or large parts of them. I choose to be a professional carpenter. Professional also means that the chosen activity provides in your livelihood and in that case you better get your name out there or little interesting work will come your way.

In articles as these it sometimes looks like all the work is executed by a single person. From a journalistic point of view I can understand that the focus of an article is limited. However there were quite a few skilled carpenters who worked on this project and all contributed significantly:

Len Bracket, Dylan Cedar Hennings, Jacob Studebaker, Shawn McVeigh, Max Ducharme and last but not least someone who truly embodies the ideal of the unknown carpenter Walter Hardzog.

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Is it Dead?

‘Agonizing inactivity’ could be the appropriate description regarding this blog’s (in)activity. I am sorry to have disappointed you dear readers but some events in life require so much attention that little time is left for play.

The last months my efforts were singularly focused on the work at hand and making sure the people who were working along my side remained busy and satisfied. Many obstacles were overcome, a lot was learned and fine work delivered. More on that later…

Today I just wanted to share this article with you. I came across it on the Japan Times website written by Judit Kawaguchi. It is a short interview with a sukiya daiku (teahouse carpenter) named Eiichiro Amakasu. Although short I found it very inspiring and it fuels my energy to keep trying to build beautiful things despite all the obstacles. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Too bad it doesn’t show any pictures of his work which I am sure is impressive.

Eiichiro_Amakasu

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2013/02/26/people/carpenter-eiichiro-amakasu/

For those of you who are not so familiar with woodworking and are wondering what Amakasu-san is holding in his hand; it is a woodshaving that can be as thin as 4 or 5 micron! These wood shavings are produced with a hand plane of which the blade has a very sharp edge. The surface on the wood created is the finest possible and is considered standard in the type of work we do.

So if you were wondering whether this blog is dead or not I can assure you it is still alive and I encourage you to keep checking it on a regular basis. There are a lot of cool things going on in and around our shop and I will report on them here. Posts may take a different form, sometimes shorter but more graphical, but their frequency will increase. You have to know that I really enjoy sharing all these carpentry related things with you, I just have to find a more efficient way of doing it.

See you all soon.

Gaillon, The Carpenters

Jeremy Brodbeck, a Portrait

I travel a lot and one of the great things about these journeys is that I meet extraordinary people who inspire me. Because of their humble intentions I feel they could use some extra attention and this is why I have decided to write about them here on the Fabula Lignarius blog.

Jeremy Brodbeck is a Breton shipwright who converted from using modern power tools to working strictly by hand and left the electric machinery aside. Choosing this path in today’s modern society is a bold decision but he is clearly someone who follows his heart and believes this will take him to his goal. What follows is based on the conversations we had.

Jeremy portrait

“I quit school when I was 17 and because I wanted to be a carpenter I applied at the Association des Compagnon. During the application interview I quickly realized that this was not going to work for me and turned around to find my own way.”

The nature of the organization and it’s strictness were not compatible with his free spirited-mind and he decided to follow his own path instead. It was choosing the difficult and long trail instead of the more or less paved road that comes with a structured apprenticeship.

Initially it took him some time to find the training that he was looking for but after only nine months of training as a shipwright he was already hired to work on commercial fishing boats which he continued to do for several years. The choice to become a shipwright was obvious to him since he was under the impression that in this trade there was still a lot of work being realized with hand tools.

Jeremy's hewn log

Unfortunately he experienced the economic reality of our modern time and was expected by his employer to use power tools to get the job done. This led him to grind his teeth out of frustration when he realized that handtools where not considered a mandatory part of a shipwrights toolkit anymore. Not being able to take peace with the noisy power tool approach he decided to move on once more and became an independent carpenter. He now had the freedom to work in the traditional way he prefers, mostly with hand tools. Today Jeremy also does timberframing, green woodworking and joinery since this enables him to attract more work then the limited pool of potential boatbuilding work.

riven fence

He tells me it is not always easy to make a living and support his family like this but so far he succeeded. Trying to work in the way he chooses means a lot to him and it takes continuous effort to keep these traditions alive and eventually pass them on to the next generations.

“I want to take up the responsibility to rediscover the original methods and skills of woodworking and maybe one day be able to pass them on.”

It is noble to train yourself to pass on what you have learned, the practice of carpentry becomes a heirloom worth nursing, not just for yourself but for the generations to come.

Jeremy's fence

According to Jeremy one of the problems with shipwrighting is that there have been too many trade secrets. This was a good thing in the past when there was a lot of competition and where you had to secure your work. Today we are in very different situation and many trades and traditional crafts have become extinct already. To preserve what is left we need exactly the opposite and try to transcend our ego and share as much knowledge as we can in order to keep our craft alive.

“Just like in life there are no secrets in carpentry, you can tell everyone anything you know. If you share your trade knowledge with an idiot it will go in and out, it won’t stick and he will do nothing with it. Share your knowledge with a talented soul and he will use it to his advantage and in the best case become better than you. He might raise the standard of our craft and inspire others to do the same. That is true progression…”

If you are interested in quality carpentry made entirely by hand visit his website here. By hiring Jeremy you invest in much more than the structure you commission him to make.