There Is Nothing New Under the Sun


I hear this discussion frequently “that item looks just like so-and-so’s item!  "You stole their work!”  This is true in wood turned items, in music, painting, cooking recipes, machinery, tools, accessories, restaurants, basically in everything.

I just watched a documentary involving Henry Ford.  It seems that in the early 1900s that the Association Of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers was awarded an “automobile patent”.  If you wanted to sell automobiles in America at that time you had to obtain permission and pay a royalty to that Association.  Henry Ford applied for permission which was denied.  He built and sold his cars anyway and won the patent infringement lawsuit which followed.  This was a clear example of men trying to control an entire industry for their benefit.  I find it reprehensible that someone would forge or outright copy another’s work and try to pass it off as their original invention or concept, or even as something produced by the original author just to take advantage of their name recognition.  Here I am speaking of an original painting, or any other piece of art which could be considered a forgery.  Business all over the world is built on “new and improved”.  Someone comes up with an original idea.  Others come along and improve it, make it safer, better, less expensive, etc. As an example: Ford builds a great truck.  General Motors, Toyota, Chrysler Corporation, etc. all take Ford's idea but build a better truck with better features and add a few twists of their own.  In order to stay competitive Ford improves their truck which forces everybody else to improve their trucks and the customers win all the way around.

Everyone in the turning world makes bowls, pens, bottle stoppers, scoops, Christmas ornaments, etc. Does that mean that you can’t make a bowl, or anything else you wish to? When an artist develops a recognizable style it is foolish for those who follow on to claim that style as their own, unless they add their own twists and turns and evolve a unique style similar to but different than the original artist. 

So, how do you develop your own style?  Most of us begin by studying an artist whose work or style we admire.  Then in order to learn we more or less copy it outright in the beginning.  There is nothing wrong with that unless we try to pass it off as A) our own original idea, or B) something actually made by the other person; in that case it would be a forgery.  When we develop sufficient skills to then modify, improve, and add our own twist to the project then we can call it our own and I like to add “with the strong influence of. . .” whoever the original artist is.  As an example: I make Mason jar lids.  My friend, Morris’s Schlesinger, introduced me to this idea.  I have developed my own style of Mason jar lids even though it was not my idea originally and Morris is perfectly fine with that.  Example #2: I did not invent the Longworth style bowl Chuck, Leslie Longworth of Australia did over 40 years ago.  I took his original idea, improved it, made it better, and added my own particular interpretation to this device.  Several others did the same thing before me, yet today my version of this accessory is the dominant version worldwide.  And so goes all business. How many people make pizza, or hamburgers, or ice cream?


Do not be afraid to learn from other people and do not be afraid of being accused of copying someone.  If you really do come up with an idea that is 100% original you should take credit for it and say so.  Perhaps you should even obtain a patent, copyright or trademark. However, the chances are overwhelming that you were influenced by others and may have just combined several of their ideas together in order to develop your particular item or idea; chocolate and peanut butter comes to mind.  I mean this by way of encouragement, not by way of permission. Because, wherever you go, there you are.


There was lots of inspiration to draw from for this week’s post.  Consider the following:


Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  — Charles Caleb Colton


By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.  — Confucius


9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. 11 There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.  — Holy Bible - New International Version — Ecclesiastes 1:9-11


A Simple Reminder: This Week I Have 2 Sales


Sale #1

Pepper Mill Master Kit

Includes 2 Special Pepper Mill Blanks

Everything you need to make beautiful custom Pepper Mills on your lathe. For this special, I've included two turning blanks made of StrataBond material. Colors will vary, but all are very beautiful. This special material is used to make extremely high end gun stocks and is composed of thin layers of dyed birch plywood and epoxy. All of the layers run the same direction so the grain patterns are vivid. Stratabond is difficult and costly to obtain, but wort the effort if you can find it. I have acquired a small quantity to include with this very limited sale. See below for detailed information on StrataBond material.

Details Here

Sale #2

StrataBond Turning Blanks

Here are a few examples of items I have made previously using this extraordinary material:

Clicking on this photo will take you to one of my web sites (you will not be able to order from that page) where you will be able to view this material in detail with much larger close up photos.

I am offering specific pieces of square turning stock. Most are suitable for Pepper Mill projects and turning tool handles to 18"+ in length. I also have 3 small bowl turning squares. Visit the web page for specifics. These are being offered on a first-come, first-served basis. I do have some additional raw inventory which I will be adding as I can mill it. If there is something you want that you don't see, please drop me a note with your requests. Colors are very limited and mostly natural.

Here is a short video to help you understand what I am offering.

Ron Brown's Best © 2015


In case you didn't already know, I have posted tons of "Free Download" stuff on my web site.

"Free Downloads HERE"

Including Bottle Stopper Designs - 50 Plus classic designs. Free PDF

Remaining Summer Show Schedule 2015 -

Aug 2015, SWAT Symposium in Waco, TX (Confirmed)

Sept 2015, Turning Southern Style in Dalton, Ga. (Confirmed)

October 2015 Fall Woodworking Show Season Begins. Cities to be determined. Probably 5 shows before Thanksgiving.