Benchmarks: Tom McLaughlin—The more we give, the more we receive
During my early apprentice days in eastern North Carolina, I heard the story of a highly skilled local craftsman. He made many pieces of beautiful furniture that decorated stately homes in the area, but he had a peculiar habit.
Whenever a visitor stopped by and entered his shop he would immediately stop working and lay down his tools … not so much to greet the newcomer, but to guard and keep secret his methods for producing his fine work. As a child of the scarcity mindset following the Great Depression, he feared if others were to learn and “steal” his techniques he would soon be out of a job.
Thankfully, my experience with woodworking friends has proven the opposite to be true. As a longtime member with the New Hampshire Furniture Masters Association, I’ve discovered that woodworkers overall are a generous lot, excited to share a technique or tidbit when you visit their personal shop space.
Open exchanges where we trade our methods of working and developing new designs stimulate fresh perspectives and energy moving forward. Ironically, instead of losing somehow, it turns out the more we freely give and share our experiences, the more abundantly we receive in return.
Fine Woodworking has been on to this spirit of generosity from their first publication nearly a half century ago, ushering us into the workshop sanctums of the very best. With each issue, I love the feeling of being a welcome guest, stepping into a well-worn creative space and seeing firsthand the processes involved in making beautiful work.
Most memorable are the profiles of seasoned masters and descriptions of making their signature pieces. Here are a few of my favorites: