Ben Bartosik

June 5, 2024

Was reading a book recently on woodworking and the author suggested that 17th and 18th century woodworkers required significantly fewer tools than today because their skill levels were simply higher. They knew how to build furniture in ways that have been mostly forgotten. This makes sense. As a growing number of specialized tools to accomplish very specific tasks were made, our skills and knowledge shrank. Now today, much of woodworking is done via machines that can cut, shape, and work wood at far greater speeds and quantities than older, less efficient methods.

It's an interesting thing to consider how the very knowledge of how to do a thing changes over time due to our innovations. Most craft, in generations past, relied on obedient submission to a master's teaching and guidance. You learned through immersive repetition, doing the thing over and over again until you embodied it. This is something Sennett refers to as tacit knowledge. Machines have offered us a shortcut to this process. But I can't help but wonder if it's a good thing. We are replacing the very concept of learning.

Anyways, this past weekend I spent a bunch of time in the garage making some benchhooks and a crochet.