Sawdust and Soul

Over the past fifteen years I have carried on a lively conversation about woodworking with my good friend John de Gruchy—he in South Africa’s Western Cape, I in the mountains of western North Carolina.

On our many trips back and forth we have had a chance to build some things together and to talk about how our woodworking reflects and shapes our approach to life in both its practical and transcendent dimensions.

Book cover for Sawdust and Soul showing half a wood statue arm and shoulder

And, as academic theologians, we have talked about how we have expressed our theological inquiries in wood and how woodworking has shaped our theology. In short, we have talked about the spirituality of woodworking.

With the gracious help of Wipf and Stock Publishers and our supportive editor Robin Parry, we have put together a glimpse into this conversation, with its stories and projects. It’s just appeared as Sawdust and Soul: A Conversation on Woodworking and Spirituality.

While we can’t enable you to feel and smell the wood, we have put in a number of photographs to give you a sense of what we have been making as well as how we work. In addition, John’s wife Isobel has added some terrific line drawings to enhance the presentation.

Sawdust and Soul also introduces you to the wider conversation we have had with other woodworkers and with the wider woodworking community in our countries. Our topics range from the shaping of a sense of balance in our lives to dealing with loss, memory, and our sense of wonder as creatures in the midst of an amazing abundance of life and artful design.

Whether you’re a tree-hugger, an all-thumbs reader, or an honest-to-goodness woodworker, we invite you into the conversation.

Bill and John enjoy their new Adirondack chair

Sawdust and Soul is available now through your local bookstore or online at Wipf and Stock Publishers. Readers of this site get a 40% discount by entering “SAWDUST” in the coupon code box on checkout.

In a couple of weeks it will be online at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. It will be available on Kindle by mid-January.

While it’s too late for Christmas (but maybe not an Orthodox Christmas!), you might think about it as a gift for the woodworker in your life. If you don’t have one, by all means reach out and find one! They’re handy for home repairs as well.

1 thought on “Sawdust and Soul”

  1. The Spirituality of Woodworking! Wow. Yes, there is that carpenter strain in Christianity’s origins isn’t there. Best wishes for the success of this (all all) your creative endeavor(s).

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