Being a relatively new woodworker, I watch a lot of YouTube for techniques, safe ways to work, and a wealth of other information. Many of these guys are said to be master woodworkers, either self proclaimed or otherwise. I know we have many masters in our group by just looking some of the amazing things you produce. That is an unachievable goal in my case but I am courious as what your definition of a master woodworker might be?
I agree with you that the term “master woodworker” is used very loosely. Norm Abram use to say it was anyone teaching others,not sure that I agree with that,that would make me a master woodworker and I know that’s not true. In Europe they have long apprenticeships(5-10 years) in woodshops or specialized areas of woodworking,there the have to be awarded the title Master woodworker.I think one who has been through one of these types of programs in the states or elsewhere are the best examples of what a master woodworker is.
woodworking classes, custom furniture maker
There are techniques and methods I am very good at, and others I am not. I’ve been in every aspect of woodworking and construction you can imagine since 1975. I currently run a custom shop that is booked through April of 2016 and possibly even further depending on tomorrow’s meeting. I’m really good at what I do, but I would never consider myself a “master”.
In my opinion, being able to pass on methods and techniques is a privilege. The men that taught me were passing on the skills they learned, and I try to do the same. Some of the people I’ve taught have gone on to become successful craftsmen, and I’m proud of that. But all I did was feed their talent. In order to keep our craft alive, we have to be willing teach what we know.
I’ve met a few master woodworkers over the years, and I always try to listen to them.
Artisan Woodworks of Texas- www.awwtx.com
I don’t believe in master woodworker. in fact I don’t believe in master “anything”
I do believe that are some really talented people that excel at what they do. I am sure it would be rare to find someone who who excel at every way of woodworking.
The so called master the magazines try to promote are good at many things but they have many flaws.
This said I do have tons of respect for teachers and we are fortunate to have some really good teachers on this site.
Abbas, Castro Valley, CA
My grandfather, unfortunately no longer with us, was a house builder for most of his life, including doing all his own cabinet work, custom staircases and interior trim. He started as a rough framing carpenter at 15. He made furniture both as a hobby and for extra income around holidays. When he turned 50, he went to work for Firestone where he made patterns and moulds out of wood for many of the products they were making at the time. He retired at 70 as the foreman of the pattern shop. Grandpa was a master woodworker.
I think the word “master” has to be put into perspective. It’s the end result of a career of learning and experience. It’s not necessarily reflective of artisanship or even quality.
Also, there are an awful lot of sub-categories for carpentry. A master furniture maker may not know even the basics of framing a house, for example. And within furniture making there are specialties as well, like marquetry or finishing. There are plenty of people on this website that have mastered many of these specialties. You can’t expect anyone to be an expert on everything. It’s just not possible.
Losing fingers since 1969
From Wikipedia (which is always right all the time, isn’t it?) :
“A master craftsman or master tradesman (sometimes called only master or grandmaster, German: Meister) was a member of a guild. In the European guild system, only masters and journeymen were allowed to be members of the guild.
An aspiring master would have to pass through the career chain from apprentice to journeyman before he could be elected to become a master craftsman. He would then have to produce a sum of money and a masterpiece before he could actually join the guild. If the masterpiece was not accepted by the masters, he was not allowed to join the guild, possibly remaining a journeyman for the rest of his life."
I don’t think that happens anymore.
-- Alec (Friends call me Wolf, no idea why)
there is nothing secret about “A master Craftsman” the only thing is there are very few about these days.
Sam Maloof comes to mind and the Roesnberg Family ( I think that is how it is spelt)
To become a master craftsman (IMO) you would need a very enviable ability to think outside the box, believe in yourself, be highly motivated and then posses the skills to produce your thoughts into 3D and then have an ongoing market for them.
So now you know!……so are you one ? ……I for one know I am not.