At root, I think the work itself is the ONLY accurate statement of my personal philosophy, aesthetic and otherwise. But because my brain still likes to spit sparks of word and thought out from time to time, here are some notions on making, design, and art.
I believe that making things is among the highest endeavors mankind can experience, and I believe it’s been that way since the first thumb stretched toward the littlest piggy. Our conception of ‘making’ has expanded incredibly with the advent of technologies and cultures our ancestors could hardly have imagined, but making is, in the end, making.
I also believe that if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing as well as you possibly can. And aesthetics are part of what makes something well-done. However, it’s been my experience that it takes a much stronger hand to make something simple than to make it complicated, and I tend to avoid ornamentation in my designs and work except where it’s undeniably warranted. A perfectly-formed curve will always trump any pictogram, word, or extraneous distraction for me, and as a result my work tends to be spare and focused.
When I began making planes, the work was done entirely with hand tools — hacksaw and files for the shells; planes, rasps, and scrapers for the infills; abrasive sheets on a large granite surface plate for lapping and surface finishing. While there are certain aspects of this work that are tedious and quite time-consuming (hacksaw work especially) I very consciously avoided incorporating machinery into the work for several years while I mastered the techniques of construction.
This was not out of some romantic love for ‘the old ways’, or any for handwork per-se, though there is something to be said for such notions. The rationale was much more pragmatic – because the designs I saw in my mind were incredibly difficult to make with machinery. Machines love regularity – straight lines, perfect circles, and simple angles. The danger of machinery, then, is that it’s easy to let the machines’ capabilities sneak into the design process, and before you know it the machines have started influencing – or even dictating – form.
Once I felt my skills had freed me from concerns about design freedom, I happily added a mill, lathe, and surface grinder to my shop. These tools have nothing to do with design, but everything to do with making more time for design.
I have always been, and remain, committed to the notion that design should dictate the tools, and not the other way around.