Archive for the 'Documentary' Category

Jan 24 2016

Tour a Steam Powered Sawmill

Published by under Documentary,Woodworks Library

The Phillips Brothers Mill has been a sawmill in operation since 1897 in and around Oak Run California. Oak Run is located approximately 25 miles east of Redding California. The Mill started as water powered, and was moved around to a couple different locations during the early part of the 20th Century, and has been powered by a Steam Boiler at the same location since 1933. Today, it is the last fully steam powered mill in America, and still owned by the Phillips Brothers family. Today it is part of a Phillips Family Trust and resides on a forest preserve of 920 acres which is meant as a sustainable forest for use by the mill. In 2002, the mill was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

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Aug 31 2015

Logging in the Redwoods – 1946

As woodworkers, we are always using our tools in ensemble to overcome challenges. What we need to make and the materials we seek to make things from are part and parcel of the challenge, but we must acquire the skill to wield our tools and we must learn the ways of wood.

For many woodworkers, it has been beneficial to go back in time and reacquire the skills and tradecraft knowledge that previous generations evolved, learning that both the tools and methods from the hands and eyes, which make for deeper craftsman skill still retain all the quality, productivity and capability they always had in today’s small shop.

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Jun 26 2015

On Developing Mastery

The development of mastery has a language. While every different thing we may hope to master in a lifetime may have many specifics that are unique to each, there is a path to all of it, and the path itself isn’t so unlike the others.

The reason we read what others have to say about woodworking, is because we are hoping to learn tips tricks and methods that we can employ for our own development. It can be about tools, methods, style, materials, joinery, etc. We need to develop a well rounded knowledge of all these things to develop our understanding of the entirety of it. Practice is the part where we develop the ensemble of all this, as we make the things we make.

I would like to present an analogy to you for this discussion, because I think it will help us understand the parts, and the whole of it a lot better. I would like to present some ideas about woodworking mastery, using music and the playing of music as a musician to you as an example of how mastery develops, and becomes our piece of kit, in us.

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Aug 01 2014

Ben’s Mill. A documentary on many levels.

Published by under Documentary,Thoughts & Musings

Ben’s Mill is the story of a mill that had been used by generations, for generations- having evolved to meet the needs of a local marketplace and community.

Ben’s Mill is a story about a community that relied on a water powered wood processing mill, blacksmith and odd jobs shop to help them with things they needed to help them live their lives better, and easier.

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Jul 16 2014

Sustenance Woodworking – A Year in the Taiga

Published by under Documentary,Thoughts & Musings

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga is a 90 minute documentary film produced in 2010 by Werner Herzog and Dmitry Vasyukov. It follows the life of some trappers and villagers from the village of Bakhtia, along the Yenisei River, in the Siberian Taiga.

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Siberia is a land mass that composes most of eastern Russia, and is larger than the size of the United States. It is largely forested, and life in much of the area has not changed much in over a hundred years. Many of the ways they sustain their lives is very similar to the ways we saw Dick Proenneke live in the documentary about his life, Alone in the Wilderness.

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Oct 22 2010

The Craftsmanship of Dick Proenneke

Several years back, PBS, Public Broadcasting, began showing a few videos that have been produced about the life of Richard L “Dick” Proenneke. (1916-2003) The titles of these videos are: “Alone in the Wilderness”, “Alaska, Silence and Solitude”, and “The Frozen North”. Most people who have seen any of these, have more than likely seen Alone in the Wilderness. This video is of footage shot mostly by Dick himself, with his 16 mm Bolex camera, and the narration is writings from his journals in the book, “One Man’s Wilderness”.

proenneke1.jpgRichard L. Proenneke Photo

For most of us, this was our introduction to Dick, and his life. It is one of the only films ever made that shows the process of making a cabin in the wilderness, using only hand tools. It is a real gift.

Dick was a man whose life took him to a lot of places and exposed him to a lot of things, and those things may have been instrumental in helping shape his abilities for life in the wilderness. Born and raised in Iowa, he joined the US Navy and was a Navy carpenter, a rancher, diesel mechanic and heavy equipment operator.

He originally went to Alaska to start a cattle ranch, and wound up commercial salmon fishing and working as a mechanic. He spent the final years of his working career in and around Kodiak Alaska at the naval base there, until a work accident nearly cost him his eyesight. His life in the ranching business probably helped him understand nature and wildlife on an intuitive level, and his life as a carpenter and mechanic probably prepared him with the self-sufficiency needed for the next phase of his life. He retired at age 51 to Twin Lakes, living as a naturalist, nature cinematographer, and scientific observer in the remote Alaska wilderness. Continue Reading »

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