by Steven D. Johnson
It's Twenty-Twelve And All Is Well!
Ankles, Seat Belts & Table Saws – A Market Trajectory
Space, Ears, and Money – How To Save Them All
It's Twenty-Twelve And All Is Well!
Another momentous woodworking year is upon us. Undoubtedly some are waiting
for December 21, 2012, the end of the Mayan long-count calendar, coinciding with
what some have interpreted to signal the end of the world. A bit maudlin for my
The great Galactic Alignment is also supposed to occur in 2012 – the earth, the sun,
and the equatorial center of the Milky Way galaxy – causing epic earthquake activity.
Wow, that would be a real bummer. Generally I am a bit more concerned when my
two favorite TV shows are aligned and my DVR is too full to record one of them.
Figure 1 - The Dragon, from a woodcut
Utagawa Kunisada II in 1860
2012 is the Chinese Year Of The Dragon. Out
of 12 zodiacal signs, the fifth, the Dragon, is
an auspicious year. Those born during a
Year of the Dragon are supposedly brave,
passionate, creative, enterprising, self-
assured, flamboyant and a bit conceited. I
was born under the sign of the Dragon.
perhaps that explains a few things…
2012, I think, will prove to be a momentous
year for other reasons for all us down-to-earth woodworkers. This is a year I think we
will finally define "sharp" in some meaningful, replicable, demonstrable way. We
can then all set aside our self-deprecation and fears of inadequacy by having a
definitive benchmark. Yep, I could feel pretty good about myself if a blade I
sharpened scored a 17.6 on the new 20-point sharpness scale. Would someone get
to work on inventing this so I can quit reading 87 articles a year on sharpening?
Just a little battery-powered box I can stick a blade in, and the LED readout of
sharpness will appear on the screen. Let me know, I will pre-order it.
In 2012 approximately four thousand woodworkers will experience the "Aha!"
moment of hand cutting the perfect dovetail without gadgets, doo-dads, and thing-a-ma-jigs
that all promise to help us overcome our supposed deficiencies. Come on!
Let's make that forty thousand! You're not deficient! Go out to the shop right now,
cut about twenty 5/8" to 3/4" thick boards to say 6" by 12" and get to sawing – no
dovetail markers, no special saw alignment jigs, no magic potions. I'll bet that by the
time you are halfway through the stack you will be cutting well-fitting dovetails. By
the time you go through all twenty boards, you will be as good as anyone.
Judging by the way things are going, 2012 might be the year that governments
convert their currencies to the "wood standard." With wood prices increasing at
bottle rocket rates, people may be converting their IRAs and 401K accounts to wood
pretty soon. Rather than cloning sheep and hybridizing corn to get twenty ears on
a single stalk, could someone please work on a tree that would grow twenty feet a
The other day a major airline announced its pilots will use iPads in the cockpit
rather than bulky flight manuals. The press report said that the airline expects the
change to save them 500,000 gallons of fuel in 2012. With carbon-fiber construction
techniques, nanotechnology, and who-knows-what else, why are we all still using
clamps that weigh twenty pounds apiece? Damn the smell amigos, full speed
ahead… I'm going back to animal hide glue this year and dispensing with clamps
One estimate of U.S. market size pegs woodworkers at about 5.5 million people. With
312 million people, we woodworkers thus comprise about 1.7% of the population.
Not enough to swing an election or impact global markets, but way more than
just decimal dust. If every woodworker showed his/her hobby to just one non-
woodworker this year, and just a fourth of those got hooked, we might soon have
enough woodworkers to hire our own lobbyist. That would really screw things up!
Figure 2 - Mayan calendar wheel
2012 is the year to put aside our irrational fears, our frugality, and our inside-the-box
thinking and be creative, daring,
independent, and flamboyant. Let's all become
Mayan Schmayan! You know what I think?
Some Mayan dude went to his employer one
day and said, "Boss, I've been chipping away at
this rock with this same dull chisel for a year…
I've written your stupid calendar out like 5,000
years in the future… you ain't gonna live that
long anyway. I Quit!" And thus ended the
Mayan calendar. No great mystery!
Harbor nothing but optimism for 2012. Just take the advice of Bobby McFerrin…
Here is a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don't worry be happy
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy......
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