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Forum topic by a1Jim posted 02-29-2012 08:47 PM 9034 views 0 times favorited 90 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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118153 posts in 4544 days

02-29-2012 08:47 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hey Friends
I was trying to establish in my thought who I thought was the best woodworker ever,I remember reading a article in Fine woodworking about an informal poll by the regular contributing editors(a very impressive group) on FWW and they all came up with Phil Lowe as the best woodworker they knew. He is miles and miles ahead of my capabilities and a amazing craftsman and teacher after some more thought I realized that our vote for the best woodworker ever is based on our own experience. as and example when I first started I didn’t notice or even think about the miters were tight in a picture frame or not ,I was just impressed that someone could make a picture frame, but now that I’ve made some picture frames I can appreciate the skill it takes to make nice tight miters.Even though I’ve been a woodworker for close to 25 years I still don’t know enough to be a judge of fine furniture in a furniture show, So I guess for me it has to be what I think of there finished work based on what I know.I know in developing a list of who might qualify for such a lofty title, folks might think of TV personalities like Norm Abram or Tommy McDonald or even David Marks all super craftsman in there own right, but dose their celebrity really qualify them for the top spot. Then there are the old masters of days gone by like Duncan Phyfe ,John Goddard or John Townsend. Were they the best ever? I don’t know if it’s possible to name the very best ever but there has to be craftsman that we would include one or more of the following categories :

top 100 old masters
top 100 modern masters
top 100 Ljs members
best in your neighborhood


90 replies so far

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 3660 days

#1 posted 02-29-2012 08:52 PM

Honestly, I don’t know many of those names you mentioned, as ww-ing is something still pretty new to me. However, Andy gets my vote in terms of fine woodworking. I’m more of a coarse woodworker myself.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

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118153 posts in 4544 days

#2 posted 02-29-2012 08:59 PM

Thanks Dan your choice doesn’t have to be anyone I mentioned.
Andy’s a great choice


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2632 posts in 3964 days

#3 posted 02-29-2012 09:02 PM

Thankyou everyone from the acedem…..........................Ah crap, it wasn’t me.
A1jim, the best woodworker in real terms was my DAD. He was able to make a lot of things with pretty primitive tools (According to todays standards, )
I look at the architecture of Europeans ,Asians, Romans and I am perplexed. Completely in AWE at what those people years ago were able to build. It has lasted !
We do have well known people in North America as well, to name ONE is a difficult thing. Personal taste would decide which ONE I really think stands out.
Very good topic…I will follow this and learn even more. Thanks A1jim for starting this.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

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4541 posts in 4041 days

#4 posted 02-29-2012 09:03 PM

Any effort to define the best has to be very subjective.

I personally know a guy who is extremely artistic in what he designs and builds. His workmanship is very good but would probably not qualify as “the best”. His artistic talent may qualify his as “the best”. Are we talking about great joints or great artistry?

I have great admiration for the old woodworkers who did such great work with virtually nothing but hand tools – often hand made hand tools. Does the state of the tools they had to work with figure into the decision?

Some woodworkers have access to and work with some incredibly beautiful pieces of wood. Others, work with more basic stock. Does the quality of the wood factor into this decision?

Do you only consider one or two exceptional pieces or do you consider their work in total?

How do you compare a complex piece of furniture (a complex desk for example) and an impressive turning?

My point is that this is very subjective and everyone will have their opinions.

Despite all my babbling – the woodworker I admire the most is Sam Maloof.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4141 days

#5 posted 02-29-2012 09:14 PM

I’ve always defined the “Best” woodworker as the one with the greatest total number of posts, on


-- -- Neil

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#6 posted 02-29-2012 09:15 PM

Just IMHO mind you, but the best woodworkers ever are, or were…

Jesus of Nazareth. (Hey, you think he didn’t work in Joseph’s carpentry shop when he was a boy?)
My Grandpa H…
My great uncle Gilbert,
My Dad. Dad, Uncle Gilbert, and Grandpa furnished and accessorized several family homes with equipment that would be considered primitive by todays standards. I had no idea furniture was made of cheap plywood and particle board until after I got my first apartment and tried furnishing it on my own… Now their style and mine are radically different, but I will say this, I sure wish Dad was closer so I could spend some quality shop time with him while he’s still here…
That dude I saw making Jaguar masks on the road on the way to the pyramids at Chichen Itza. He could do things with, and I kid you not, a swiss army knife, and sand held in a banana leaf used as abrasive that would blow your mind!

I might be a little biased though…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

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1531 posts in 3660 days

#7 posted 02-29-2012 09:16 PM

hahaha.. suck up!

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

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118153 posts in 4544 days

#8 posted 02-29-2012 09:18 PM

Good points Rich ,in spite of all my babbling that’s what I was trying say ,It’s all subjective.
Sam should sure be on the list.


View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4301 days

#9 posted 02-29-2012 09:34 PM

Hi Jim. I can’t think how one could name the best. I think I agree with Rich that such a choice couldn’t be very objective.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View waho6o9's profile


8964 posts in 3544 days

#10 posted 02-29-2012 09:37 PM

Good one Neil.

View Howie's profile


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#11 posted 02-29-2012 09:40 PM

Never really thought about it Jim but it’s a good point to ponder.

-- Life is good.

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Joe Lyddon

10955 posts in 5019 days

#12 posted 02-29-2012 09:47 PM

Jesus of Nazareth. (Hey, you think he didn’t work in Joseph’s carpentry shop when he was a boy?) (I agree)

Sam Maloof – Woodworker… In his field… He redefined the Rocking Chair along with other chairs and furniture. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (you didn’t think I’d vote for anyone else… did you?)

Note: Jim said ”... who was…”
... but the title says “who’s” = who is … (???)

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Manitario's profile


2816 posts in 3850 days

#13 posted 02-29-2012 09:51 PM

That is a really tough call; I don’t know enough about “famous” ww to make any sort of suggestions; this month’s FWW mag features Jere Osgood; his creations are absolutely amazing, however I’ve seen my share of projects on LJ’s which are beautiful and incredible. Some stuff I can sort of imagining one day to have the skill to build, there’s a lot of projects on this site though that I can never imagine being able to build!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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10880 posts in 4082 days

#14 posted 02-29-2012 09:56 PM

I think the best woodworkers has to be the waterbucket maker
he is judged several times a day to proof his new build bucket is thight
if we talk a single person …. but none of those we know the name on

and if there can be more than one who can have build a thing it most be the boatbuilders
since people littrely put there life in there hands

if it comes to furniture it has to be one that is a master of several trades in woodworking
both to design /build / turning/carving /veenering and finish how many can claim that now adays
compared to the old masters that made furnitures of high end to the realy rich including
queens and kings among those who did that there is several that is pretty much unknown to the mass

I have seen a few on L J

to find the best of the best will take years and a few $ (alot of them)to find out

take care

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5688 posts in 4275 days

#15 posted 02-29-2012 09:59 PM

Jesus of Nazareth? I don’t think he did much with this woodworking and I can’t ever remember hearing about any of his woodworking skills or what type of stuff he built…I believe he got his skills and his notarriety on other areas.

I agree with Rich..there are so many variables and areas of woodworking that make it hard to define under one title. So many people with so much talent and longevity building in so many different styles in their trade.

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