I'm still looking through back issues of Fine Woodworking from the mid 80's.
One of the things I've noticed that's no longer in the magazine is the snail-mail equivalent of a message board. Wood workers were looking for tips on sourcing parts, or tools, or wood, or hardware, in a dedicated section of the magazine.
It made sense to me that the section isn't there anymore, since this is something that most folks are able to do online now. But it made it clear that there was an existing community back then for wood workers to appeal to. And it was also clear from some of the entries that this was an attempt to reach out beyond what they had for local resources.
It was intriguing. I've talked to people online who have grown very used to being able to find answers immediately. There were a lot of questions in those old magazine sections, and in the reader's letters, from people who had tried to figure out their own answers, first, before writing. I don't see that as much online these days. It makes sense that people had to push through it in the old days. There was a long time between the moment someone puts a letter into the mailbox, and the moment when the editorial glacier deposits the answer back into their hands. Chances are pretty reasonable that they'd be waiting months... and anyone who wants to wrap up a project won't let it collect dust for that long unless they're really and truly stuck, and had to move onto something else in the meantime.
Side by side with this, there was a clear body of knowledge that existed. People were making tools that were pretty ingenious, and coming up with procedures that were pretty remarkable. AND, they were sharing them. I don't know if this is a result of the decline in middle-class manufacturing jobs, if this was a case of 'the way things were in the good old days,' or if CNC production has eliminated a wide body of skilled workers. Back when I was selling tools, I would have said it was just laziness... I was astounded at how many people were simply convinced that every tool for any purpose had been created and marketed, and was surely just sitting on the shelf somewhere... But now I'm not so sure.
There's not really a moral or a lesson to this entry. But it does feel sometimes like the world is becoming something analogous to Tolkien's middle-earth, and that the wisdom of the elves has been leaving our shores.
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