More of Rant than a blog #1: Primitive vs your a half ass wood worker.

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Blog entry by kenthemadcarpenter posted 11-26-2015 02:18 PM 1684 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of More of Rant than a blog series Part 2: Stop Bashing Central Machinery. Harbor freight »

Okay so this is more of rant than a blog, but I need to get something off my chest before I explode, so excuse my being blunt. I’m pretty sure many of you have come across “primitive wooden projects” being sold at craft fairs etcetera. I my self in my area run into this every where. My problem with this I don’t consider these pieces to be primitive, I do consider them to be nothing more than piss poor excuse of craftsmanship. from the knicks in the wood you were to lazy to sand out to the lousy stain job you applied. the rough edges, or the hammer marks from the nails you hammered in that you didn’t sand down. That to me is not primitive that’s, a seventh grade woodworkers project that deserved an F. I own several old pieces of furniture that were all built before modern power tool and none of these pieces have hammer marks, knicks in the wood, or a rough finish, and don’t sit there and call it rustic, or Farmer style either, call it what it is. a piece of crap built by a piss poor wannabe wood worker. to me a piece that is primitive is one that was done with all hand tools, from the cutting of the pieces with a saw, to using a chisel to make the the rabbet and dado’s, to the sanding by hand. well that’s the end of my rant.

11 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118322 posts in 5029 days

#1 posted 11-26-2015 03:27 PM

We all work at different levels of workmanship and different types of projects. I tend to agree with you about many of these so-called “rustic” or”primitive” projects,they don’t always have good joinery or finishes but these are the types of projects that some buyers want to buy and that some woodworkers want to make. In woodworking and any other artistic venture ,there is always someone less talented than ourselves and more talented so let’s not pick on those we consider less talented and let them enjoy what they do and we enjoy whatever level we work at.
Happy Thanksgiving


View TheDane's profile


6055 posts in 5115 days

#2 posted 11-26-2015 05:10 PM

Kent … I couldn’t agree more. I see stuff being sold at craft fairs and flea markets as ‘rustic’ or ‘primitive’ that, to me, is just junk. One of my daughters is into ‘shabby chic’ ... a lot of the stuff she collects wouldn’t qualify as firewood in my world. But I understand what aiJim is saying, so each to his/her own.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View SawSucker's profile


110 posts in 2380 days

#3 posted 11-26-2015 05:16 PM

I think that it’s ridiculous to complain about it when the profit in woodworking is next to nothing. You get what you pay for. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.

View Tugboater78's profile


2798 posts in 3643 days

#4 posted 11-26-2015 05:29 PM

I agree, but gotta cater to the poor taste of thier customers.

Thier is a “primitive” shop opened up in my small hometown. On the outside it looks like what people want these days ( sadly) but the guy who makes the items does a better job than I on the joinery and construction. It just gets the “distressed” treatment that is so popular these days.

On the other side i was in a shop, on vacation, where they wanted $60 for a “breadbox” made with plywood scraps i woulda burnt. My 6yr old could have put it together better.

To each thier own.. i personally would rather find a real “primitive” pieces and try to restore it..

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17816 posts in 4070 days

#5 posted 11-26-2015 06:12 PM

I’ve sold (and have posted as a project on LJs) a farmer’s table / bench / sideboard suite that includes hand plane marks that the customers loved when they came to pick out stain color, so I left them in place. I used M&T joiner and quite a bit of hand tool work (read the blogs here about that as well). Guess I’m a piss poor workman in Kent’s world, but I take no offense at all. I don’t use sandpaper much at all, but don’t care if others sand painstakingly through all the grits to get the finish they want, either.

There’s a place for Ikea, and me, and Kent too. I’ll make the colonial-style highboy when I’m good and ready, but I’m not ready yet.

I’m going out to make some shavings.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View chodgson's profile


37 posts in 4136 days

#6 posted 11-26-2015 07:11 PM

Smitty I doubt you’re the piss poor woodworker that Kent is talking about. I think the woodworker that Kent is talking about wouldn’t even know what a hand plane was for, and might use a dozen brad nails to hold a table apron to a leg. There is “shabby chic”, and there is “rustic”, but then there is “I nailed some pallet boards together in a way that isn’t likely to last the trip home”. This sort of thing happens in other fields as well, I am appalled at how little research some people do before they start trying to sell their wares/skills – when there is so much information so easily available. There is a difference between “self-taught”, and “didn’t even bother to learn”.

I personally don’t have a problem with rough-looking pieces as long they are built well, and either functional or artistic, but they are not usually to my taste. But as others have pointed out, the market rules and so if people will buy it, someone will try to earn a penny making it.

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 4553 days

#7 posted 11-26-2015 08:48 PM

The wife and I went to a “craft” show in town last month. It has run for the past five years. It is called the “Country Chicks Fair”. It was so big it had to be held at the local fair grounds. The local newspaper said there was more than 150 booths selling at this show. All the kind of slapped together imitation fake old stuff you talk about.

I’ll bet if you had a building next door that was filled with “quality built wood items from quality craftsman”, the “Country Chicks” would have out sold them a hundred to one. I never saw so much money exchange hands and so many items go out the door.

If you really want to make money at this, you gotta give ‘em what they want or you can sell a few and take the rest of your quality built back to the shop.

P.S. I get your rant….....................

-- mike...............

View kenthemadcarpenter's profile


124 posts in 2519 days

#8 posted 11-26-2015 09:14 PM

@ smitty_cabinetmaker, no I wouldn’t consider you a piss poor woodworker if most every thing was done with hand tools, I would applaud you for it. If the customer liked the hand plane marks, well their paying for it. My self I would have thrown them at out of my shop and told them to go to a goodwill store if they want beat up furniture. Lol
Oh wait I have. It’s a different story if some wants a distressed look as I do like that look when it’s done properly. I recently built a plaque for my girlfriend for her graduation. Where I distressed the frame,

View Texcaster's profile


1293 posts in 3125 days

#9 posted 11-26-2015 09:55 PM

I’m always interested if the design transcends the basic workmanship. That is hardly ever the case, they all copy each other.

These people can be very deluded. I was visiting a relative in Ohio in early July about 8 years ago and went to one of these fairs. The American flag was on everything from toilet seats, old chairs, you name it. Patriotism and nationalism were at a high pitch.

I started to photograph this stuff to show the folks back home. Every other booth was the same. It was literally wall to wall. In an ironic twist one vendor accused me of stealing “her designs”. Go figure.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View tomd's profile


2232 posts in 5222 days

#10 posted 11-26-2015 10:31 PM

Well Ken just wait till someone brings you one of these nailed, hot glued, cobbled together things and asks if you can repair it.

-- Tom D

View kenthemadcarpenter's profile


124 posts in 2519 days

#11 posted 11-27-2015 12:20 PM

Tomd if they bring me one of these I will point them to my wood stove and tell them that’s where garbage goes

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