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No Woodworking on this Vacation…Maybe

a couple of years ago

City of SalzburgI spent a week abroad in Austria this month with my wife as we followed in the footsteps of her favorite composter, Mozart. I thought briefly about bringing along a camera and capturing some footage for this blog. I mean Austria and Germany are full of woodworking right? Well, I ditched that thought and decided rather to indulge in the musical nature of this trip and get back in touch with my own musical roots. I’m glad I made that decision because there was so much to see and hear and worrying about getting a shot framed properly with good sound would have only interfered with my experience. It was a much needed break to remember where the inspiration for the things I build springs. Certainly furniture is functional first but I’d like to think that everything I build not only meets the function but then adds a bit of beauty. Trips like this help to refill my inspirational bank not only for future furniture projects, but also for any creative endeavor. Heck after this trip, maybe I’m finally ready to write that symphony. Then again, I did promise my composition professor in college that I would never do that again. Y’know, for the sake of humanity.

I say all of this to establish that I had consciously decided not to think about woodworking on this trip. Yet somehow I have a lot of photographs of woodcarvings and dovetailed log cabin corners and furniture. Yes even a pole lathe and workbench ended up in my camera.

It is funny how no matter where I go or what I do, woodworkers are all the same: incredibly nice people, who love to share what they are making. Somehow I ended up in a Handwerk store in Berchtesgaden, Germany talking woodworking with the clerk. I must say, my high school German teacher would have been proud of me holding my own auf Deutsch while we talked about our lathes and the centuries old woodcarving tradition in Berchtesgaden. In particular I picked up a cool technique that I’m filing away for my own shop some day. I spotted several turned vessels that appeared to have been chip carved. In actuality, the outer shape is turned then the woodworker uses a series of sharpened stamps and a mallet to cut in the patterns. Then the vessel is hollowed at the lathe and the negative space parts just fall away. This leaves an impossibly delicate, lacework wooden vessel.

Carved treeLikewise, while strolling along a street in Schönau am Königssee, I came across an entire miniature woodshop of tools laid out on a cloth napkin. In the same stall were beautifully carved and turned evergreen trees which my wife immediately told me not only could I make them but that I was now obligated to make her an entire forest of them.

We had a memorable trip and I’m glad I left woodworking behind for the week and just soaked up the sights and the food. Right now my shop has a few extra cobwebs in it and I’m just realizing, a panel still in the clamps. I guess that glue is cured by now!

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