I haven't written anything for about two years and maybe because I am aware folk are bombarded by endless opinions masquerading as facts and my lone independent voice will get lost in the ether. Or maybe I have just been very busy with other things. But I myself value the role of the good old-fashioned blog when I am searching for something useful online. So who knows this might be of value to someone!
So my topic today is about YouTube woodworking and where its all going with this latest clickbait motivated trend in so-called 'myth busting' started across the pond. Basicly we are told all the experts have been wrong. I am referring to end grain gluing of course (and also to cancel culture!).
Quote (Mr Richard Sullivan): 'End grain joints are twice as strong as side grain joints'
Yes, a cleverly presented, highly articulate confident and visually impressive 'scientific' experiment that proved what it set out to demonstrate within a carefully selected and limited set of parameters that have no relevance to the real world of woodworking -- in fact is misleading to many thousands of woodworkers.
A later quote from Mr Sullivan: 'I had no idea my video had confused so many people'!!! Really?!
A simple strength test that uses square section seems to fool many woodworkers when lever forces in the real world of chairs or tables present an entirely different set of parameters.
Mr Sullivan ended his video with a demonstration of two identically dimensioned strength tests - but with grain directions opposing. Which is stronger A or B?:
This is visual trickery so let's put the same test into a different context - when edge jointing boards to make up say a table top the ends might be later trimmed. So the offcut is similar in grain configuration to A. Any woodworker will know that the offcut will break into pieces on landing on the workshop floor.
The above example is included in my short animated video I made about end grain and other glue only joints and notice the reference to the history and principles of woodjointing:
I would suggest that any so-called myth about end grain gluing begs the questoin what have woodworkers in the USA and Canada been taught by their experts Why for instance are the shoulders of tenons not glued? Who are these experts who taught them that there is no strength at all in end grain gluing?
No glue on the end grain shoulders of tenons?
The English tradition has been to apply glue to ALL surfaces. Apart from the basic rule of fibre lap being essential for a strong joint a long glue line also adds to the strength: A finger joint is a good example:
In the second video in Mr Sullivan's 'Glue Myths' videos he focuses on mitre joints and seems unaware that you dont have to wait 50 years to see whether the joint will open up. An unsupported glue only mitre joint will be subject to timber shrinkage across the grain and every time will open up on the inner edhe of the joint:
Fortunately I am not alone in my critique of what is going on now. On the other side of the pond woodwork enthusiast Edward Weber has commented on these clickbait videos and here is a comment by him on Mr Sullivan's latest video on the myth abouts biscuit joints:
"Biscuits are nothing more than light duty floating tenons. Use them accordingly This video series once again leaves people with a distorted view of the advantages of biscuit joinery. Keeping joints aligned and restricting there movement is half the battle, your tests don't take real world scenarios into account, AGAIN."
Edward contacted me directly after I posted my videos on glue only jointing and he not only endorsed what I suspect is going on with YouTube and how it is the major woodworking influencer today but he went much further in his criticisms of these so-called myth busting videos. But he also gave me some useful feedback on why my videos are attracting less views now.
He sugested that everything has to be dumbed down for the USA market; if you explain something you have to explain it in clearer than clear term and the attention span is limited. Of course I try to do this as my background is also as a teacher and author and when I was invited by a major publisher to write The Enyclopedia of Woodworking Techniques in 1993 I was briefed by the senior editor to explain everything in the most simple terms as the main market was the USA.
I find this astonishing when the USA put the first man on the moon and is leading in space tourism today!
Commissioned and published in 1993 translated into five languages. The book won the UK Bookselers Top 20 Titles Award (from 63,000 bookss published that year.
I set up my YouTube channel in 2009 and to date have a modest but decent £80,000 plus subscribers. Some are lost every month and others join so it is not a fast growth thing for me. I think I have uploaded about 750 videos mostly on woodworking but covering other interersts such as music guitar playing and making vehicle restoration and some hi tech reviews as I am a bit of a gadget junky.
My top viewed video (around 2.5 million views) is 'What can you do with a router?' and closely following are my Tube bending, hotmelt gluegun and Micro catamran videos.
The truth is most of my videos in recent years struggle to get more than a few hundred views and often people comment that specific videos should be receiving vastly far more views than they do.
I have little idea how YouTube works. I try to tick the boxes as per guidelines but clearly in contrast to my viewings averaging 500-1000 per day in previous years my videos are not being picked up by YouTube algorthyms and I get maybe 100 a day and then they stick at under 1000.
I had understood originally that YouTube encouraged quirky 'be yourself' YouTubers but my observation since monetisation really took over is a high degree of conformity. Many woodworking channels are alnost clones I hate to say and it goes against the grain with everything I have been taught to have the cheek to ask somebody to subscribe before they have watched a video. But with average attention spans around 20 seconds if you want yiour channmel to survive you have to go with the rules - to a degree.
It seems clear there is some kind of cartel in existence amongst the big boys in YouTube woodworking and the big boys are sucking the mass audiences - 50,000 views in a few days. The Richard Sullivan (who is he?) video created a controversy - deliberately of course as comments rank videos high even if much of it is drivel. Not one of the dominant YouTubers criticised the Sullivan video but jumped on the bandwaggon to boost their own audiences.
Somebody called Numpy Stubbs stated at the beginning of his video that his opinion doesnt count and yet he has a quarter of a million subscribers (astonishing modesty!!) and he tried to distance himself from Mr Sullivan by stating he felt it was more appropriaste to call him Mr Sullivan. Why would he even have to mention that? Neither he or any of the big boys admit that the Sullivan videos were misleading but praised him as some kind of hero and some mentioned that viewers misunderstoodwhat Mr Sullivan was trying to say! Is this what YouTube refers to as joining a community in order to optimise viewings? This gang of mostly USA based top boys (many of whose practice is questionable) seem to prop each other up and so the face of woodworking is changing by these new so-called experts who it would appear are motivated by money rather than principle. Is this the democracy of YouTube?
Of course there are diverse ways to fashion wood and I am the first to acknowledge and encourage that and as one of my subscribers wrote to me recently - 'just continue what you are doing Jeremy in your own way and when you want to'. I guess its not a competition to see who can get the most views but whether you have anything to say that will at least stick with a few people.
Reminds me of the Marx quote: 'Count me out of any club that will have me as a member'.
Now what was the topic today? Oh yes - gluing end grain. Well to put it in perspective why would a major glue manufacturer advise that when gluing end grain with their glue - reinforcement should be added in stress applications?
Are we really living in a cancel culture and is this the best side of democracy on YouTube where useful content gets dwarfed?!
And talking of major glue manufacturers I asked one leading brand technical expert why he was not challenging some of the misinformation on YouTube about glues and end grain and he replied that they would likely get sued. So its okay that an authorative voice with years of research behind it is silenced by fear and ordinary flash in the pan Joes to get financially rewarded (YouTube monetisation) without accountability misleading vast numbers of ignorant woodworkers.
Crazy world today!