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James Krenov, master cabinetmaker: Wise words about craft and marketing

May 15, 2011

Cabinet by James Krenov, photo by Jonathan Binzen

Click here for a slide show of James Krenov’s exquisite cabinetry.

Years ago, when Rende first bought ‘A Cabinet Maker’s Notebook’, I wrote down some passages of Krenov’s simple wisdom about living the life of a master craftsperson. His words are just as relevant some 20 years later and I’d like to share them with you across a couple of posts.

Working alone poses problems of discipline and aims, and you have to get on lifelong terms with your work and yourself. For most of us, in the beginning stages and perhaps always, it’s a condition of struggle and discovery and secret satisfactions.

Sometimes you are not making as much money as the plumber…, but you are alive with your work, and I think that one of the important points to keep you going is that you enjoy it-not hobby enjoyment or periodic enjoyment, but the enjoyment of being with it.

That, of course, means that you must save your energy, you must develop methods of working with wood that lead to a sort of harmony, a satsifaction that you are, with a minimum of effort, achieving the maximum of sensitivity. You are saying what you want to say, finally, and you’re doing it in a way that, despite all the sweat and hard work, gives you satisfaction.

This is the way you want to live.

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