In this post I will introduce this blog’s purpose, my qualifications and motivations for writing it, and a description of the sort of subjects that will be posted.
It’s purpose is simply to share sound information regarding woodworking techniques, woodworking hand tools and construction work with an emphasis on Japanese hand tools and techniques
Although woodworking and construction are universal human activity, Japan has unique history and traditions and has developed techniques many find interesting. Indeed, most Japanese woodworking hand tools are different in some ways from their Western counterparts, and must be setup, maintained and used differently.
Unfortunately there is a lot of blather on the internet and even in print on these subjects that pound for pound is valuable as road apples and smells as sweet. I intend to provide a more professional viewpoint.
The content of this blog will not be a regurgitation by an amateur of things learned or plagiarized from books, magazines, YouTube videos, or heaven forfend, troll-infested woodworking forums, but will be based on real-world professional experience.
What relevant professional experience do I have, you ask? To begin with, I worked as a joiner, cabinetmaker and carpenter for many years. I have worked in the construction industry most of my life as a contractor and direct employee of some of Japan’s largest general contractors. You could say I know the trade.
Much of what I know about woodworking and tools I learned directly from the professionals I worked with and tool makers whose opinions I sought out, most of whom have gone to the big woodpile in the sky. You could say I had good teachers.
I no longer use tools on the jobsite, but I am still involved in the Japanese construction industry. I have lived, studied and worked in Japan off and on for around 24 years since first coming here 43 years ago. You could say I know the neighborhood.
I have a masters degree in architecture and engineering from a prestigious Japanese university and am bilingual in both written and spoken English and Japanese languages, so you could say I know how to research and ask intelligent questions about technical subjects and understand the answers.
But what about the quality of the information? As in all things, you must judge the quality of the content for yourself. But here are a few things you should keep in mind when doing so.
We live in a confusing era of fake internet experts, absolutely corrupt journalistic standards, and blogs and publications authored by lazy opportunistic shills. Is this evaluation too harsh? I don’t think so. But whether opinion or scientific research results, a wise man will consider the writer’s motivations which inevitably skew the focus, quality, and sometimes even the veracity of information he presents.
I think there are three common and not mutually exclusive motivations for people to write blogs. One is a desire to share useful, interesting information. I like to think this is my motivation.
Another motivation is a desire to be popular and make money in the process. For these fellows, success is partly measured by the number of “clicks,” “likes,” and subscribers they get, and of course the acreage of banners and adverts on their webpage. Both their self-worth and income relies on infrastructure controlled by monstrously unethical companies like Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Patreon, and the funding of viewers and sponsors. I pity them.
I have no problem with people touting a product or service or belief. Who knows, the information may be useful, so long as it doesn’t include too many lies or exaggerations and the touter is honest about his relationship with the item or service, as I am with my products. Sadly, too many bloggers, YouTubers, and politicians don’t reveal sponsor contributions in cash or goods but pretend their opinions and reviews are unbiased. Such behavior is indisputably unethical. I think a famous French soldier expressed my thoughts about such dishonest people well when he said: “I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal-food-trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!”
I will never accept sponsorships, contributions, banners, or freebies. I have no SEO goals. Those who want to read the things I have to share must find this blog without guidance from the Silicon Valley decepticons.
Perhaps the third blogger motivation is a disease called “writer’s dysentery.” This horrific affliction makes the victim feel sick in their guts unless they write and post something, anything, everyday regardless of relevance or quality. Many scribbler-types suffer from this frightful disease and practically gush like a trash pump. Thankfully, I am not infected with this malodorous malady. I spend too many hours every working day writing necessary documents for my company and clients and the construction projects I run, so I feel no compulsion to spend my free time writing for free.
Therefore, I will not subject you, Gentle Reader, to diarrhetic descriptions of my vacation, hobbies, boat, motorcycle, kids, grandkids, pets, my grandkid’s pets, or rambling step-by-step descriptions of landfill-ready woodworking projects imitating those eternally recycled in woodworking periodicals, subjects which make up 80% of the content of most blogs.
Now that it’s clear what I won’t write about, let’s look at what I will.
The craftsmen that make and use the tools that are a major subject of this blog are located far from most English-speaking readers, both culturally and as the crow flies. Communication with these people on technical subjects can be challenging. During my years in Japan I have built relationships with these craftsmen and learned much from them. I will share that knowledge in this blog.
I also plan to post interviews with Japanese craftsmen along with photos of their smithies, workshops, and jobsites as time and opportunity permit. Perhaps we can even do a few Q&A sessions with them. Please let me know what interests you in the comments below.
As a construction-industry professional in Japan, I routinely evaluate and hire Japan’s top general contractors and subcontractors for my Client’s projects. I will share some of those stories too (non-disclosure agreements permitting).
Some of the how-to subjects I intend to discuss will include tool setup, sharpening, maintenance and proper usage, as well as how to make some tools. And of course, woodworking techniques.
Regarding the frequency of posts, I am a busy man and dislike wasting time with pointless drivel. I will post only what I think is worthwhile, measured by my standards and your requests, when I can. And I will make no schedule commitments.
The one thing I do promise is the content of this blog will be worth more than you pay for it. You won’t find a better deal anywhere at twice the price.
If you have relevant questions, please ask. If you have suggestions or corrections, I am willing to learn. But to those who would use the internet’s anonymity to morph into snapping orcs or bellowing trolls, I say Go back to the Shadow!
All others I welcome with bunny hugs.
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