Editor’s Note: today, we’re doing something a bit different. Michael, a friend, fellow-woodworker and fellow-lawyer, whom I have known for literal decades, has graciously agreed (after much prodding by me) to write a guest spot for TheApartmentWoodworker.com. I think Michael brings up a prescient point about the modern woodworker. In the past, many artisans would have contributed to a single piece of furniture. Nowadays, hobbyist woodworkers are convinced they must be jack-of-all-trades craftspeople. This is certainly not true, and there is great value and efficiency in outsourcing certain project parts. I also learned a new word (rectilinear). Thank you, Michael!
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Like James, I woodwork in a small shop in my spare time. I use mostly handtools: not only because I enjoy them, but because, for me, they’re simply more convenient. I believe in using the most efficient tool for the job, and when the job involves cleaning up after yourself, and not tracking dust through the rest of the house (you know, the one your partner just cleaned), then handtools quickly score points on the efficiency scale.
But when the snow melts, and I can pull out a contractor’s table saw and rip down some boards in the yard, the efficiency scale leans the other way. Could I have done the job with handtools? Sure, but who cares? This is a hobby and I only have a limited time to do the things I enjoy, one of which is creating beautiful pieces of furniture.
That’s why I am a firm believer in outsourcing some woodworking tasks when it makes sense to get the project done. For example, I don’t turn my own legs. I don’t have a lathe, or have the room for one. I’ve never even tried turning. Maybe I will someday, but for now, when a project calls for a turned leg, I go to places like tablelegs.com. There are other excellent websites as well, where a skilled turner will make you any style leg you want – from cabriole legs to bun feet. I can usually find what I’m looking for, or at least something close that I can modify to fit my project. The quality is great, and consistent. The point is, my lack of shop and skills shouldn’t pin me into a rectilinear corner.
Sure, I could take a class at the local woodworking club and eventually develop the turning skill to do it myself. But I want to actually finish my project this decade. Again, I say who cares? And by outsourcing I am supporting other woodworkers.
But please don’t order your legs pre-mortised.