James Krenov has died. I don’t know how I missed the notification, but I just heard about it this week and I found it deeply saddening. Krenov was able to write down his ideas about woodworking as evidenced in his work and his thoughts have endured for many years. So many people in the hobby have been influenced by his work and his writings. All of us aspire to his standard of excellence and wish we had his design sense.
For an idea about what this is really all about, consider this image of a lovely little 12″ x 18″ storage box that appeared in an out-of-print book. The King of Sweden collected little ceramic pieces and needed a box to store them. This one works just fine, thank you very much.
The scale of his pieces is what is amazing. Should you buy the books still in print, look carefully at the size of the pieces and you will realize that bigger is not necessarily better.
Last year I was surfing the net and happened on Krenov’s web site. At the time he had stopped making his iconic pieces because of failing eyesight, but continued to offer planes for sale. I bought one. I think I paid $300 for it after several e-mails back and forth with his wife. After they shipped it to me, I looked at it briefly but needed to set it aside because of some illness in my family.
After hearing of his death, I looked for and found the plane I had bought from him last year. Look at his initials on the front of it. I thought he had put the blue masking tape around the throat and blade simply to keep the pieces in place for shipping, and I debated whether to take the tape off. Finally I did take it off and lo and behold, the throat was full of the most beautifully delicate shavings. Shavings put there by the master. I left them there and I don’t know if I will ever take them out…