The first time we took our benches to see the public I was a bag of nerves. We took along a huge fancy Roubo type thing, but it was the other, simple bench we took that was my favourite. I hoped to focus on the idea that a good bench could be simple so the tail vice was absent, I never use tail vices.
Along with the benches I took a rough old stick with a notch cut in it, and a holdfast. I tried to demonstrate an old, clearly forgotten woodworking technique so that even a beginner could work well without a tail vice. A handful of people seemed intrigued, but for the most part this bench fell well in to the shadow of its bigger brother with its fancy spinning vices.
Simplicity was no match for the bling and commerce.
My first attempts at filming project videos a few years back were horrific. I couldn’t speak, not a word. After truly months of banging my head against the wall Helen came up with a new tactic; don’t woodwork, just do a quick tip to break the ice. Out came the batten again, and many takes later we finally had a video.
I’d hoped a couple of people would benefit, but the response to the video on the Holdfast and The Batten was considerably more. The internet, it would seem, is a fantastic place for simple ideas. Perhaps it’s because it finds us in the confines of our own space where the otherwise dull and mundane can be heard without the pull of more shiny surroundings.
The extreme stress of making that video has led to one of the most gratifying feelings of writing this blog. I started to see an idea which had previously been shrugged off being implemented in to numerous workshops. To me the batten had been a training aid, and I haven’t seen one on my bench since the filming. But by sharing, that simple stupid stick has found a use at many benches. It has been redesigned, reshaped and re-purposed, and I love it.
I’ve always found the human aspect of work methods fascinating. The way that ideas evolve in a kind of Chinese whispers effect as they get implemented to meet the specific needs of an individual. Making this video has allowed me to see this happen first hand to this, the most simple of ideas.
I’ve followed it’s journey through many applications and seen in turn the rediscovery of ‘The Doe’s Foot’. To me though it’ll always be the notched batten.
So the point of this post. If you have an idea, share it.
People will benefit. And if you think it’s so good you’d rather keep it locked up tightly in your own box of secrets, swallow your ego I tell you, because it’s far more gratifying watching it flourish.