Popular Woodworking 2007-08 № 163, страница 61

Popular Woodworking 2007-08 № 163, страница 61

Great Woodshops

by robert w. lang

College of the Redwoods

Krenov's woodworking school turns silver as the rest of us go gray.


ne of the problems of getting older is the realization that events that seem recent actually happened decades ago. A conversation with a co-worker about movies or music comes to an abrupt halt as I realize they probably weren't listening to Buffalo Springfield or watching "Little Big Man" when they were three. The 25th anniversary of the Fine Woodworking Program at the College of the Redwoods fits neatly into this category for me.

Like many woodworkers who came of age in the 1970s, there are a handful of older craftsmen who influenced and inspired me. Sam Maloof, Art Carpenter and James Krenov were people doing what I wanted to do. They had been doing it well for quite a while by the time I became aware of their work. Hunger for information about this kind of craftsmanship led me to Krenov's books: "A Cabinetmaker's Notebook," "The Fine Art of Cabinetmak-ing" and "The Impractical Cabinetmaker" (all published by Linden).

These were the first woodworking books I read that went beyond the meat and potatoes of building furniture and discussed the philosophy and emotion involved. Where Ernest Joyce's "Encyclopedia of Furnituremaking" discussed the craft in dry detail, Krenov wrote about developing relationships with pieces of wood and tools in a philosophical, almost poetic way. He managed to tap into the unknown stuff deep inside that makes working with wood a basic need for many of us.

Krenov inspired enough interest that he was invited to give workshops for a woodworker's guild in Mendocino, Calif. This led to the founding of the nine-month program under the auspices of the College of the Red-

Design in three dimensions. The process of creating new designs follows that employed by James Krenov; full-size mockups like this one by German Plessi of Buenos Aires, Argentina, supplement drawings to better visualize details from all angles.

woods, part of the California community college system. The program was successful from the start, attracting many applicants every year for each of the 20 or so bench spaces. It was, and still is, unique among woodworking schools. Some schools are based on traditions or styles, but the College of the Redwoods teaches the gospel according to Krenov.

I spent a day last January talking to faculty members, current students and former stu-

dents who had come to town for a gallery show of the current students' work. The facility, curriculum, even the tools, habits and attitudes of students and graduates all bear the imprint of the founder. The wooden handplanes, cam clamps and small sawhorses were familiar from pictures in Krenov's books.

Small items like these and the work in progress was just a bit different from what you see in a typical American shop. In the

70 ■ Popular Woodworking August 2007

photos by dayid welter

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