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Thursday, 27 November 2014

DVD Review: The Secret Mitre Dovetail - David Charlesworth

I must preface this review by saying that I have watched David's new DVD once, from beginning to end; but this is not how I prefer to enjoy them. A Charlesworth DVD should be savoured slowly, a little at a time, interspersed with visits to the workshop to try the techniques for yourself and reinforce your understanding of them.

The first word that springs to mind after watching is richness - The DVD for its richness of content, and the man for his richness of experience and his well practiced ability to share such deep knowledge efficiently. This effortlessly smooth production has been a lifetime in the making - savour it, give your brain time to absorb the finer subtleties and nuances.

Like most of us, I have several woodworking mentors and admire them for different things, for example I find Tom Fidgen's working rhythm particularly graceful and Mark Fish's creative vision awe inspiring.

For me the thing that marks David out as a teacher and a woodworker is his application of academic rigour to the process of 'making as perfectly as possible'. He explains the thought process behind his approach to each task, then demonstrates it, explaining clearly what you should be looking out for at each step.

There is also a humility that is a characteristic common to both good craftsmen and good academics, David is laying his course of bricks in the cathedral of knowledge that is the craft, with openness about his own strengths and weaknesses and full accreditation to those who laid the previous courses - Robert Wearing, Alan Peters, Ernest Joyce et al.

With very few exceptions the filming and editing are of BBC documentary quality throughout the 2-3/4 hour run time, the DVD is conveniently edited into chapters so you can use it as a reference text.

Nominally the DVD is about cutting a secret mitre dovetail, but if that is all that you glean from it you have missed about 90%. All of the techniques demonstrated have much broader application and along with their entourage of analytical thought processes, will enrich your woodworking enormously.

The DVD costs £29.95 and is available directly from David's website here: The Secret Mitre Dovetail - David Charlesworth

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