2012 Woodworking Blog Awards
December 31, 2012 § 13 Comments
These are my 2012 Woodworking Blog Awards, certain to be regarded as the least prestigious award one could possibly receive. I spend a little bit of time each week perusing woodworking blogs, and like everyone I have my favorites. So, without further ado:
Blog of the Year: Peter Follansbee, joiner’s notes. 2012 was the year of Follansbee. For many years Peter Follansbee has been the joiner at Plimoth Plantation, but his green woodworking really became exposed to the masses this year when his book Make a Joint Stool from a Tree—co-authored by Jennie Alexander—was published. He made another appearance on the Woodwright’s Shop, had a video released through Lie Nielsen on 17th Century joined chests, and taught multiple classes. He also turned into a part-time tool dealer by selling some of Jennie Alexander’s old tools and used his blog to sell scores of his hand made spoons and boxes. And thankfully he kept the blog entries rolling throughout with lots of great posts. For many he brought a new perspective to woodworking by simply reminding us of how things were done centuries ago. If nothing else, Google saw a phenomenal increase for the search term “hewing hatchet”. In September, Follansbee posted an article here that he wrote several years ago for Woodwork Magazine. It was one of the best things to hit a woodworking blog all year. After reading it, you can’t help but want to find a log and split it open.
Honorable mention: Rob Porcaro, Heartwood.
Most Prolific Blogger: Accidental Woodworker. As I write this, Ralph Boumenot has posted 438 blogs in 2012. There are still a few minutes left in the year so that number might not stand. That’s 438 blogs…in 366 days. Ashton Kutcher doesn’t tweet that much. And his posts aren’t one sentence shorts either. Ralph gives us detailed accounts of all sorts of things he’s building, and he is refreshingly honest about everything in his life. We get to read about spilled cans of finishes, tearout, dents, as well as cracked teeth, the plights of finding a job, erasing all the pictures in his blog software, and much more. And he does all this while working in what he euphemistically calls a “cellar”. Please someone give Ralph a winning lottery ticket so he can move into a beautiful new shop full of Lie Nielsen tools.
Best Build of the Year: Grace Schuler at the Literary Workshop Blog. Steve Schuler is the author of the Literary Workshop Blog, and earlier this year he allowed his wife to guest blog to document her building of a dresser. Bloggers rarely allow their spouses to guest blog, for a few reasons. For one, they fear their spouse will like it so much they’ll try and take over the blog (if they are dumb enough to give them their username and password). Or they are afraid that whatever is written will completely overshadow all their carefully crafted words. For Steve, the latter may have happened this year. Over the course of five posts, Grace Schuler wrote about the trials of tribulations of a non-woodworker setting out to build a pine dresser, sharing with us not only the normal challenges any woodworker would face but also the arguing about which of her husband’s tools she could use, struggling with work-holding devices in their dining room shop, having to take design advice and workmanship critique from her husband, learning to cut half-blind dovetails, learning to sharpen, tending to three small children – and all in a mad dash to finish the build during her last trimester and before the birth of their fourth child. If you don’t think this was the best build of the year, please read that last sentence again. Part 1 of the 5 part series begins here.
Honorable mention: Bob Easton’s Treadle Lathe
Best Prose: The Offcut. Robin Gates is a woodworker living on the Isle of Wight in the UK. His posts are not the most frequent, and usually of few words. (This is in contrast to my rambling posts that never seem to end.) But, oh, does he pack a lot into just a few paragraphs. Here is just one example:
When I was 5 years old and travelling to my Gran’s on a Southdown Queen Mary with my Mum, the conductor’s Setright ticket machine was the thing I most wanted in the world. I’d marvel at the conductor’s expertise in setting the fare on the knurled wheels and then, of course, the magic moment when he turned the handle and the ticket came spiraling from the machine.
Half a century later this is exactly what I think about when this 1930s Steadman of Birmingham rabbet plane pares out a rabbet as crisply as a knife through a Cox’s Orange Pippin, sending out the curled shavings like Southdown bus tickets.
Rob, seriously, when you write like that the rest of us sound like half literates.
Honorable mention: Doug Stowe, Wisdom of the Hands, especially his work following the tragedy in Newtown, CT.
Best Photography: Lost Art Press. The online woodworking community is replete with Chris Schwarz fan-boys. Almost everything he builds instantly blows up the webosphere and gets copied by the hundreds. But I frequent his blog for the photography as much as anything. While he is certainly a skilled woodworker, he is equally skilled with a camera, and it consistently shows in post after post.
Honorable mention: Anyone who makes infill planes
Project Envy Award: Jamie Bacon’s new shop at Plane Shavings. In a series of jealously-inducing posts, Jamie documents the build of his new stand-alone hand tool shop. There are too many posts to link here, but just go to his blog and type “shop” into the search field. After a half hour of going through all the posts you can look around your shop and feel like you’re working in the Gulag.
Best Random Posts Award: giant Cypress. Wilbur Pan’s blog is the undisputed champion of off-topic hilarity. I guess when you reside in New Jersey you need some vicariousness in your life.
The “Wish We Saw More of You” Award: Pat Megowan Designer Maker. Pat Megowan is a woodworker in Corvallis, Oregon who does stunning work. Unfortunately we don’t get to see too much of it, because he would rather do actual woodworking than blog about it (so 20th century). In 2012 he had 4 posts, and one of those was about hiking. And after a several month hiatus, he decided to return and drop this:
C’mon Pat, there is a crap load of pent-up woodworking envy out there for you to tap into.
Most Educational Blog: Pegs and ‘Tails. Jack Plane’s blog is part woodworking instruction and part history lesson. It is one of the best places on the web, blog or otherwise, to learn about eighteenth century English furniture. Even if he didn’t write a thing and only had the bibliography on his site, it would be more informative than most of the stuff out there.
And for all those who didn’t win, cheer up, there is always next year!