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Posted September 11, 2003
TRUE, HONEST, OLD-FASHIONED WOODWORKING
Author Ruhlman might be the new Studs Terkel of our time. In his various other books he seached for perfectionists, whether chefs or surgeons. This study is about carpenters, or rather more specifically, the men (and they are almost all men) who make sailboats, the old-fashioned way, out of wood. It might seem a stretch to dedicate a whole book to an obscure topic; after all, after you've met the guys, reviewed what they do, and lard up some stories, what do you have? A fascinating read into people and a trade and circle that we wouldn't otherwise be aware of. The author is not afraid to get down-&-dirty, either with the work and cutting and hammering, or, as his own work of writing demands, with trying to describe all sorts of esoterica about wood, lifting, boat design, the economics of shipbuilding, and he's also not afraid or embarassed to take the next logical step, and point out the 'meaning' of the task, its honesty, beauty, grace. The observation is made that wooden boats are probably as old as humankind, including some of our oldest stories such as the Odyssey or Noah's Ark. Points not mentioned are that Jesus was a carpenter and that Paul was a tent-maker, and we might be free to believe that they probably made boats and sails. This book describes the holiness of work, well done, lovingly, as a source of pride and life.
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Posted April 29, 2011
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