It’s the easiest question in the world: Who is your favorite woodworker? A fellow craftsman asked me this question earlier this month, and I still don’t have a good answer.
I have one easy answer: Dead woodworkers. Charles H. Hayward is my No. 1 hero. He was everything I have ever wanted to be: A traditionally trained woodworker, a talented writer, illustrator, editor, photographer and builder. He put out The Woodworker magazine in the United Kingdom almost single-handedly for more than 30 years. His books and articles are the foundation of any good library on handwork in the 20th century.
But it’s easy to admire people who have passed on because they are not around to remind you that they are human and have foibles.
So (oddly, perhaps) I’ll praise another woodworker who has ventured to the Great Beyond: John Brown. His magazine columns and his later chair designs changed the course of my life. They inspired me in the 1990s to seek out chairmaking courses, and those led to my ongoing obsession with chairs and compound angles. John Brown is also one of the most explosive woodworking writers who ever lived. His columns in Good Woodworking magazine in the 1990s excited, angered and inspired a generation of woodworkers. And there has yet to be another person like him.