Arts and Entertainment

Editing ‘The Intelligent Hand’


I’m in Austria this week with my family. And while they sleep – Lucy is curled up beside me now – I can’t help but continue editing, sketching and writing.

Right now I’m near the end of editing David Savage’s “The Intelligent Hand.” It’s a most unusual book that will cause much gnashing of teeth and stirring of the trolls beneath the bridge (don’t let them snatch your Cheetos). I think you’ll love it.

At first, however, Megan Fitzpatrick wasn’t so sure.

She gave it a first edit two months ago and said to me several times: You’re not going to like what he says about workbenches. Or sharpening. Or tool steel. Or tools….

The truth is, I adore the book, and I especially love publishing books that don’t fit neatly my view of the craft or benches or tools. In fact, as an editor I consider it a joy and a duty – a noblesse oblige – to seek out perspectives different than mine. To promote them and give them time in the sun.

This approach is not intended to confuse you. It is, instead, an effort to illustrate that we are all myopic, no matter how open-minded we think we are. It’s easy (and perhaps comforting) to surround ourselves with people who see the world similarly. And ignore other perspectives.

But when we do this, it’s a hell of a lot harder to grow as a builder. Or as a person.

If you can look at David Savage’s designs and his 40-plus years of work and say he’s full of crap, then you need to take a critical look at yourself in the mirror. I have no lack of confidence in the way I feel about how I approach the craft. Neither does David, John Brown, Mary May, Don Williams, Peter Galbert, Andre Roubo or any of our authors.

If you let their ideas in, and if you try to see the world from their perspective, then hell, you might learn something.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. “The Intelligent Hand” is scheduled for a September 2018 release.

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