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Forum topic by ~Julie~ posted 07-04-2012 09:21 PM 3528 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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617 posts in 3510 days

07-04-2012 09:21 PM

Can anyone help me, I’m trying to remember who said, and the exact quote that was something to the effect of letting the wood speak to the woodworker and it decides what it wants to be. Sorry, this is not so accurate, but it’s driving me crazy trying to search for it online. I believe it was a well-known woodworker.
Thanks for any help,

-- ~Julie~

14 replies so far

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2665 days

#1 posted 07-04-2012 10:12 PM

Maybe James Knenov or George Nakashima ?

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 4390 days

#2 posted 07-04-2012 10:24 PM

Sounds like something Roy Underhill would say – well, come to think of it – it sounds too serious for someone like Roy Underhill to have said it – though he may have quoted it sometime…

He did suggest that the jedi craftsman had to be ‘at one with the wood’
From his classic ‘The Spirit of Woodcraft’ Episode:

Perhaps it is from Nakashima’s ‘The soul of a tree’
I couldn’t find any proof one way or another.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View ~Julie~'s profile


617 posts in 3510 days

#3 posted 07-04-2012 10:34 PM

Thanks for the leads, I believe it is Krenov and am searching further!

-- ~Julie~

View NaFianna's profile


524 posts in 3502 days

#4 posted 07-04-2012 10:34 PM

Yes I have a vague memory of reading about some carver who ‘listened’ to the wood.

-- Cad a dheanfaimid feasta gan adhmad.......?

View ~Julie~'s profile


617 posts in 3510 days

#5 posted 07-04-2012 10:52 PM

Perhaps both Nakashima and Krenov had similar thoughts.
I have discovered doing this research that I really need to buy a few books!

Thanks again

-- ~Julie~

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 2974 days

#6 posted 07-05-2012 02:24 PM

“I want to be a tree but you have cut me down to size.”
“I want to be a useful stop block for your mitre saw but you have embarrassed my shy self by making me a drawer front on your very publicly displayed jewelry box”.
Etc., etc., just couldn’t resist.
Seriously, I think it’s from Soul of a Tree.

-- [email protected] : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16283 posts in 4694 days

#7 posted 07-05-2012 03:37 PM

According to legend, an awestruck admirer looked at Michelangelo’s finished statue of David and asked him how he had done it. To which Michelangelo replied: “David was always there in the marble. I just took away everything that was not David.”

There is probably something in there that we can apply to ourselves on a personal level as well. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View KnickKnack's profile


1098 posts in 4043 days

#8 posted 07-05-2012 07:12 PM

Thanks for this question.
I did some research and, whilst I didn’t find the explicit answer, I found a lot of sites saying similarish things.
Including getting me to , which was fascinating, and has hopefully helped remind me to do more listening and less talking.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 4390 days

#9 posted 07-05-2012 08:06 PM

From the Nakashima website, there is this quote, though it is not clear whether this was from George Nakashima or his daughter Miro Nakashima

“Each tree, each part of each tree, has its own particular destiny, its own special yearning to be fulfilled.”

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View Johnnyblot's profile


319 posts in 2752 days

#10 posted 07-05-2012 08:31 PM

it sounds familiar to me. I think it may be the Craftsman who makes a Bell stand for the Emperor [?]. I think I read it in a Krenov book. I’ll check when I have more time.


-- Gossamer shavings just floating around the back yard….-Bandit

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23182 posts in 3582 days

#11 posted 07-07-2012 02:44 AM

We used to have a problem solver guy that put on seminars. His name was Hans Bajaria and he was from India. He said when you have a paper problem in the plant, don’t ask management, talk to tree!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View DrDirt's profile


4592 posts in 4218 days

#12 posted 11-10-2016 06:34 PM

yep Krenov – -
Krenov on Grain: The Story of a Cabinet
From Fine Woodworking #133
When it comes to reading grain, Krenov wrote the book I started with only a vague idea of what I was going to make. I knew it was going to be a small cabinet and that it would be made of a wood not too light — and not very dark. Medium, like this teak. I did a little sketch, more of a doodle than a drawing. The sketch just gives me a line on a map — I can follow it, but I still have to take a look at what’s on either side of the road.
From there, I went to the wood room and picked and poked my way to a sense of confusion, irritation. I looked through the wood I had in my bench room, but I didn’t find what I wanted.

I had some teak that was very dark brown and extremely straight lined. Teak like that seemed too good to be true — it didn’t excite me. Then, back in the wood room, I noticed a small, crooked, sawn-up log of teak lying partly hidden on the floor. We’d had it for several years, and nobody seemed to want it. It was no more than 5 ft. long and had been sawn into 8/4 planks. I scratched it a little bit and discovered it was rather a lively teak. It had nice color and a lot of motion in it. Once I found that log, I was off and running — it really gives me energy when the wood helps me with what I hope to do. But I have to take care. If I turn to one
plank instead of another to start a cabinet, it can be the difference between night and day. Or
maybe just night. …

It’s a matter of getting acquainted with all of the properties of each wood you choose to work — a wood’s colors; its hardness or lack of hardness; whether its grain is ornery or not. It’s a very personal thing, and not everyone pays such close attention. But if you do, you are more in harmony with the wood and the work. And the results seem to flow from this harmony, even though it is connected with periods of stress and doubt. In the long run, knowing about these things will help a person.

When I was working on the sides of the cabinet, it became apparent that something different from what I had anticipated was going on. I was making a perfectly rectilinear cabinet, but here the grain was bending forward at the bottom: The crook in the log of teak was now visible as a pleasing but definite curve in the grain of the veneer. When I saw that the side of the cabinet created a forward curve, I decided to change the stand to one with front legs that swept forward. Making this change is an example of observing what’s happening with the wood as you work. But while you sometimes let the wood guide you, you shouldn’t let it dictate. You have to refer to the wood without abandoning your intentions. There has to be a cooperation, a partnership between the two. The idea is to follow, but be careful.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Cooler's profile


299 posts in 1319 days

#13 posted 11-10-2016 09:11 PM

It sounds familiar but I cannot place it. My favorite quote on the subject is by Louis Nizer, a lawyer no less!

A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist. ~Louis Nizer (1902–1994)

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

View Andre's profile


2741 posts in 2282 days

#14 posted 11-10-2016 11:29 PM

Robert Van Norman from the Inside Passage School of Fine Cabinet Making! Krenovs books are required reading so I do believe he was quoting James himself. Robert trained under James at the Redwoods.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

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