We often receive a good natured ear-boxing for one reason or another here at Toolmonger. One such letter came from reader J Stevens who brought to our attention the passing of woodworker and furniture builder Sam Maloof.
Though we never met him personally, we are familiar with his work and philosophy of building furniture. Mr. Maloof built all manner of furniture (including his house) by hand and from scratch. His pieces are both well-constructed and intensely valued by many collectors — but it was his attitude towards his fellow craftsmen that we find the most valued in his legacy. Sam Maloof wasn’t a keeper of secrets of the trade; he shared with anyone willing to listen.
Here’s a sample of what we are talking about from the LA Times article on him.
He didn’t believe in keeping trade secrets and was eager to share knowledge earned through trial and error to save what he called “a struggling craftsman” hours of frustration. He turned his 1983 autobiography, “Sam Maloof: Woodworker,” into a how-to book with more than 300 photographs. It was followed by a popular instructional video, “Sam Maloof: Woodworking Profile,” by Taunton Press, which also publishes Fine Woodworking magazine.
The thing we find most endearing is that he started woodworking for the simple reason that he had no proper furniture to put in his place and couldn’t afford to buy the things he wanted so he decided to make them himself.
This is the very essence of what we try to do here at Toolmonger as well. If you don’t have the cash to buy it, build it instead. You may find along the way that you learn much more than how to build a table or chair but how to make your life better through the use and knowledge of working with tools.
If you have the chance, read the linked article about the life and work of Sam Maloof: Woodworker. It’s a story of a way of doing things that took him decades to master and something others will spend a lifetime admiring.