The Train, She is Rolling


I am not much of one for New Year’s Resolutions, preferring instead to periodically articulate attainable goals for the coming year rather than pie-in-the-sky wishes that will soon evaporate.  But this year I was adamant that the pseudo-albatross of “A Period Finishers Manual” would be on that list for the last time. Yes, it has simultaneously been a labor of love while being a weight on my neck for the past few years.

Last week was a momentous one here in the hinterlands: The first installment of the book was sent to the first group of reviewers for their critiques, feedback and guidance. These folks were selected as readers specifically because they were avowedly finishers of limited experience, and could tell me whether or not what I was writing made sense to them. They are the proxies for every woodworker who might eventually pick up the book.

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As we began I gave them this charge:

“I wrote the entire manuscript for the Studley book in about six weeks averaging over a thousand words a day. I have been working on this one off-and-on for almost six years, happy sometimes with a couple hundred words at a time.  In the former case it was all I could do to wring out a manuscript from what I thought was a paucity of knowledge and yet it flowed like water from a firehose. I am having the exact opposite problem here, trying to cut it down to an easily readable yet beneficially instructive book, a determination you are charged with helping me to achieve.

“My tone is just the way I write, I want the reader to feel as though we are simply conversing.

“Further complicating things on my end is that I do not write in a linear fashion, never have and likely never will. I’m 65 with little desire for any fundamental changes in life. In other words I do not begin at The Beginning and conclude at The End. I write episodically, creating and working on vignettes throughout the manuscript as the spirit moves me (even true when I write fiction) then merging them and backfilling as necessary. It is a Billy Pilgrim sorta thing, I guess, or was it George Orr? That results in the current situation wherein the skeleton of the manuscript is complete but the connective tissues are being grafted in now. That is sometimes much more time consuming than creating the original mass of words.

“My current strategy is to get you the manuscript in a linear fashion, hence this first document is the Introduction, basically the mission statement of the book. Though not at all technical, it should give you some sort of roadmap about the journey we have begun together. Feel free with your comments and edits.”


From this point on, approximately every two weeks, another chapter of the manuscript will be sent to this naïvely valiant group of volunteers. I say “naïve” because by the time we are finished, they, too, will be glad to see it in the rear-view mirror of their lives.

Once a passage has passed from my hand to theirs and back, with the revisions integrated (I may or may not accept their suggestions, but the results thus far indicate we are all on the same page – all the suggestions have been excellent and useful), the sections will be passed on to the second group of reviewers. They are highly experienced finishers with decades of experience, which will allow them to comment on the workbench techniques and technical veracity of my verbiage.

At the moment the manuscript is nine chapters, although a couple of them are quite long-ish and may be subdivided.

It looks like I just might meet my goal of being able to move on to the next Roubo volume by Christmas.

Don Williams



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