David Savage is a name that you might know. He is a UK woodworker with over 30 years of experience and a very distinctive style of furniture.
David teaches woodworking and contemporary furniture design at Rowden Farm Atelier and recently released his book, Furniture with Soul, a book which looks at the journeys and work of 20 accomplished, contemporary woodworkers. There is a lot of very useful information for a woodworker on his website and a great, if sporadic, newsletter where I found this story which I was compelled to share.
When I was a young guy I had a girl friend called Sandra. Her Dad, Ken Bulmer, was a joiner, this was waaaayy back in the Sixties. “I’ve got to find a second hand book cabinet for all my text books” I told Ken one evening after supper. I was the smart kid going off to college, “Don’t go spending your money lad” said Ken, “we will make you one”. (Note the “we”). Well, we went out the back to Ken’s shed, he pulled out bits of plywood and two or three long pieces of reddish wood with a dark shiny veneer on one side that had done a job somewhere else, then Ken had pulled them out of the refit to bring home. “This will do” Without much fussing he took a short stubby pencil from behind his ear marked a few lines with a battered square then began sawing. Hold that end up lad… The saw had a high rasping note that I now always listen for.
Within minutes Ken was sawing mitre ends and truing them with a small hand plane. He then cut housings for the two shelves and quickly fitted them, pinning the joints with small nails that he punched beneath the surface, filling the hole with “Brummer.” [Note: Brummer is a brand name of wood filler.] Now we had a structure and I was sent to get two cups of tea. On the back he cut and fitted a Masonite board to make it rigid. We now had THE BOOKCASE. By the time he had finished it was late, I guess about Ten O’ Clock, and “we” had made a cabinet.
Seeing someone do that up close has gone a long way to inspire me to become the person I am. Ken Bulmer – thank you. The world needs to be engaged in stuff that gives that kind of satisfaction. Just buying and nailing and running away does not do it. We need to feel what Rich feels; satisfaction in doing something as well as we can. Pat on the back, hell, that does not go anywhere near…