I received the following letter from Ashley Leedman this morning and felt I should share it here and let you see the beautiful table he built using only hand tools.
A great job Ashley and thanks for the letter.
My wife brought me your book a couple of months ago and it has inspired me. My wife got an overseas job – in burma – and i took leave from my job to come look after the kids. But i also figured i needed something to do when the kids were at school and i was at a loose end. Being something of a handy man i figured i would try my hand building fine furniture instead. My wife, being keen on this stuff, brought me a whole bunch of quality hand tools and i went out and got a bunch of power tools that i didnt have – because thats what all the books said i needed. Power routers and jigsaws and the like. The more i delved into the world of woodworkers the more i got side tracked by big stuff that i needed if i was going to build anything decent. But it depressed me a little and i didnt quite know why. Seeing the ‘ideal’ workshops in the magazines and on the web – the ones that had a space for the table saw and the drill press and the router table and thickness planner and whatever else made me think i could never afford that stuff and i would never have room for any of it anyway. Indeed, i kind of thought if you need all that stuff to build a small table then perhaps this woodwork thing was not going to work out for me. And, on another level, i didnt like those things anyway…, the noise the dust, the aggression. But, once in my new home in Burma, i set to anyway and made a workbench out of reclaimed Pinkado (a local hardwood) using a mix of traditional joinery and hand held power tools and thinking about drill presses and router tables (and where i would put them back home).
And then my wife gave me your book…..and my view of woodworking changed. My workbench would fit in my tiny shed back home and i didnt need anything else. No big noisy tools. No jigs and bits and pieces to create the perfect repeatable mortise. And the idea that there was no hurry, that the joy was in cutting the mortise by hand and taking time. I could relate to that, its what i wanted but i had already been convinced by the books and websites that it was not the way to go because it was slow, not accurate etc etc. So my next project was by hand. I had already started a design that had some solid old school joinery but also used power routers and few other power tools. But your book. I hit ebay and started buying some old hand tools. Got them, sharpened them up and they worked! So i finished the piece by hand – see attached pictures.
So thanks. Your book showed me a new way to work with wood, one that touches something in me in a way that working with power tools never could. No need to respond to this email just wanted to let you know the power of your words and ideas. Look forward to your next book.