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Thread: Late James Krenov

  1. #1

    Late James Krenov

    Wanted to start a "tribute" to Krenov thread. His writings were very important to my career as a woodworker. It's a shame to lose such a great guy. Care to share how he may have made an impact on your work?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Baltimore, Md
    I have ALWAYS admired his work since I was first introduced to it. I always found something in my work lacking. So when I decided to make my hanging toolchest, I chose to take the element of 'knowing' the wood as he so often describes. And I think this project (still in progress) has been a JOY. I wish I could have met him in person, but he pieces inspire me as much as his words. He will surely be missed.
    "The element of competition has never worried me, because from the start, I suppose I realized wood contains so much inspiration and beauty and rhythm that if used properly it would result in an individual and unique object." - James Krenov

    What you do speaks so loud, I cannot hear what you say. -R. W. Emerson

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
    He is my main inspiration. I wish i could of meet him!
    I'm just making my first plane after his design!
    Rest in Peace James Krenov!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Austin, TX
    His ability to inspire cabinetmakers through his work and words is as close to immortality as one can get.

    Thanks JK.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Perth, Australia
    This is a paraphrase of my message on WC. I hope no one minds...

    Even though earlier messages prepared the way, there is no doubt in my mind that we are all the sadder for the news that Jim has now passed, and the end of another era has come.

    My heart is with the Krenov family.

    I thought that it would be appropriate if (those in a position to do so) might post a picture or two of something inspired by James (Jim) Krenov. That would be a fitting statement.

    I have not made any of the classic Krenov cabinets ... yet. They are there on The List. However I have made a couple of sofa tables, the one below is described in more detail in the review I wrote of the smoother that Jim sent to me (link below).

    Regards from Perth


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    a short distance from my body
    This is truly sad news. Another woodworking icon gone.

    Of course JK was much more than a woodworker. He was a great artist, writer, and philosopher that has forever changed the discipline of cabinetmaking. At it roots, his work is Arts and Crafts, but JK took it to another level. He didn’t just stand on the shoulder of other great furniture makers. JK set his own path and clearly defined a new era for studio (and amateur) furniture making. There were certainly people that took this route before JK, but none put this philosophy to words like Krenov. Although other studio furniture makers may have eclipsed Krenov in design, they did it by standing on JK’s shoulders.

    As an amateur woodworker, I appreciate JK’s philosophy that woodworking is more than a project with deadlines. Quality, integrity, proportion, texture, a unique slice of wood, and some leisure time to enjoy the process will result in a satisfying venture that just might produce an heirloom for your children or children’s children.

    "There is a fine line between hobby and mental illness." - Dave Barry

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
    College Station, Texas
    There are several styles of plane that stand out as icons. The Krenov is certainly one. It's simplicity of construction, comfort in hand and grace standing there make it more than just a tool. No other plane form seems as friendly. To me, the Krenov invites innovation, use and a certain playfulness.

    As far as pure aesthetic art, the Hong Kong style plane and the Krenov are to me the most graceful. Seeing either one give me a child like impulse to make a shaving with it. They have a similarity in their curves, yet the Krenov comes across as clearly Western.

    In use, a well matched Krenov is a revelation. No other plane comes close to the comfort in use. The Krenov plane is first and foremost a user. It is friendly to the hands, and if it was made right, it's curves fit your hands wonderfully. That is the entire point of the Krenov. Simple ergonomics. The beauty of the shape is entirely incidental.

    It is also quite revolutionary, it breaks the user free from mass production and from the quantified widths and lengths that are assumed by the industry. In a time of mass produced power sanders that scream as they score wood and throw allergens into the air, Krenov, with this plane, introduced many a craftsman to look past the mass produced tools.

    Krenov never accepted that his tools might be treasures. He would not allow the prices he sold them for to become extraordinary. James Krenov was quite stubborn in the adherence to his standards and to his philosophy.

    The Arts and Crafts Movement is still quite alive, in some great part, due to James Krenov. Many of us are inspired by the works of the brilliant craftsmen and designers who have contributed and are still contributing to this form. Krenov was not one of the original founders of the Arts and Crafts Movement, yet, in my limited understanding of the form, I cannot think of another designer and craftsman who was as true to the original spirit of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

    Yet there is more to his philosophy. So many craftsmen have had their work, joy of work and designs influenced by James Krenov, that in subtle ways his personal movement is probably larger than the Arts and Crafts.

    The end buyer of of fine furniture may be shopping around and looking for a maker that matches their ideals. The collectors may have books of lovely Arts and Crafts homes, rooms and furniture. The buyers of fine furniture may be making selections based purely on style. Not everyone looking for original designs is looking for Arts and Crafts. Krenov has influenced many of the great craftsmen and artists currently living and creating. He has changed how they perceive wood, and even work. James Krenov has influenced so many, that it may in fact be hard to find a fine original work these days, in any style, that is not in part, a Krenov.

    Godspeed James!
    Last edited by Bob Strawn; 09-11-2009 at 12:47 PM.

  8. #8
    Back in the seventies, when I first read "A Cabinetmakers Notebook" it became an euphony to me. This was not a book about how to make something but rather a reflection of a cabinetmaker about making. It taught me that how something is made is as important as what is made. It taught me that every cabinet and every birdhouse is a reflection of the heart and soul of the maker. It starting my lifelong and continuing journey into working wood. This solitary simple life has influenced so many in such a simple and profound way. Indeed many of my tools and pieces were poor attempts to follow Mr. Krenov path. I even tried to import the Italian shaper he used. I started making planes over 20 years ago searching. I spent the morning planning cherry with my simple Krenovian planes, tears in my eyes. I will miss him alot.


  9. #9
    It taught me that every cabinet and every birdhouse is a reflection of the heart and soul of the maker.

    In 1914 Clive Bell wrote Art, in it he explained his theory of what makes something art. The theory is essentially this. Some objects, created by hands, have, for whatever reason, been charged with a power to produce "aesthetic emotion" in sensitive viewers. This aesthetic emotion is produced only by "significant form". Significant form, according to Bell, is the combination of lines, shapes and colors in certain relationship. Not all form is significant form, in fact, very little form is significant form, therefor few objects have the ability to create aesthetic emotion. Objects which do not create aesthetic emotion are then classified as craft while objects which do posses significant form are art. It seems to me that Krenov understood what Bell called "significant form" and thus had the ability to create "aesthetic emotion" in his objects. He also had the ability to teach people (students) to recognize and perhaps even create significant form/aesthetic emotion.

    My heart goes out to Brita and the Krenov family. Jim has been a tremendous service to the world of woodworking.

    I feel honored every time I make a shaving with one of JK's planes. Here is shot of one of his very simple smoothers. This was a daily user....when I caught wind that the end was near I decided to retire this plane and make my own (bottom).

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