Archive for the 'Philosophy' Category

21
Feb
09

A Week of Epiphanies

This week has been a week of epiphanies for me. The first epiphany came when Liz came to me and said, “It’s time to rearrange the office for more efficiency.” I thought I was pretty efficient, ensconced in my CIC (that’s a naval term for what used to be the bridge of a ship – now it’s the Command Information Center, and depending on your perspective probably a few other things.) I’ve stalled on the rearrangement as long as I could, and last night fell victim to it. The CIC has been hit with enemy fire, and I can’t find anything… Mayday…

The next epiphany wasn’t mine, but mine to share. I had the pleasure of being a guest on “The Sawdust Chronicles” podcast with Rick Waters and Erik Pearson. Just three guys talking about woodworking, perhaps the kind of conversation that would take place down at the local hardware store when I was a kid. The joy of this podcast is that Rick is especially forthright in the fact that he’s just beginning as a woodworker. He’s following the path that many of us seasoned woodworkers have taken; started out trying to emulate Norm Abrams in making their shop an electromotive glow of wonder that can be seen from space. Ask me how I know this… Recently, Pete Bretzke sent Rick a Stanley No.-7 saved from the brink of death (including a gorgeous knob that Pete had turned out of Zircote.) As we talked about the No.-7, Rick discovered the nomenclature of the plane as well as, and more importantly, how to adjust the iron for square and how to compensate for the backlash. As Rick discovered the joy of hand planes, Erik and I basked in the joy of bringing another soul into woodworking enlightenment.

Epiphany number three came to me yesterday, as Matt Vanderlist of Matt’s Basement Workshop fame sent me a video he made recently. It is scheduled to be a part of another video he’s making, so I’m sure you’ll see it. Don’t worry. In the clip I received, Matt reasoned that in the length of time it would take him to pull out his track saw (sometimes true enlightenment takes a while,) get set up, and make a cut he could pull out a hand saw and do the same job with time left over. I have found this a truism, although I don’t own a track saw. That’s really not all that remarkable, but the stock being saw was… plywood! I have to admit, I’ve never tried to “crosscut” plywood, but there it was – Matt had used blue tape to reduce splintering, and used a red-handled saw for sex appeal. With the pale color of the birch plywood, we had American ingenuity at work!

So, there you have it. Since the week is nearly over and I’ve used up more than my quota of epiphanies, I can now rest easy thinking I know it all. Of course, tomorrow is Sunday, which starts a new week…

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18
Feb
09

When Woodworkers Get Together

I recently had a recording opportunity with Rick Waters and Erik Pearson; names that sound remarkably like the co-hosts of The Sawdust Chronicles podcast (I really wish I would have thought of that name!)  The experience was a great one — I had the pleasure of describing my “rustic” shop (that’s what they call it in the country, a city-dwelling friend of mine would have described it as a “ghetto-shop.”)  I was given permission to vent my spleen on Galootdom, and helped Rick discover the joys of making a Stanley No-7 usable.  The experience reminded me of somewhere I’ve been before…hmm… Oh, Yeah!  Berea, Kentucky – the Woodworking in America conference.

There just isn’t any doubt; woodworkers as a group are the nicest, most supportive group – as a group – that I’m aware of.  And the funniest — laughter is inevitable.  I’m convinced that Star Trek:TNG got their idea of the Borg from woodworkers (“You cannot resist.  You WILL be assimilated.”)  Beats the heck out of school; “You WILL be marginalized.”

Every Friday my junior high school held lunchtime “dances”; where a about 200 acne-infested, geeky boys whose greatest talent lay in tripping over their own feet would sit on one side of the gym and the girls whose teeth looked like they had emptied out the nearest Ace Hardware sat on the other with the juke box playing, “It Never Rains in California” (that would be the original Albert Hammond version, if you need the context).  One might get similar imagery for getting woodworkers together — I have no hard data to prove this, but I would think that a higher percentile of woodworkers compared with the general population would tend to be introverted because much of the work is done holed up in our shops, working alone — only with coffee and doughnuts rather than Reese’s and Twizzlers.

Nope.

Again I remain impressed at the collegiality, warmth, and sense of comradery from these two guys whom I count as friends!  Where else can you go and forget about social strata, politics, and other anthropological detritus?  Not even the Church practices such liberty!

Thanks, guys, for such a great time!  I’m sorry the tree that came down and cut the power to all of the little town I dwell in had to end things abruptly, and I’m looking forward to a return visit!

Why don’t we do this stuff more often?

You can find The Sawdust Chronicles on iTunes or wherever quality woodworking podcasts are sold near you.




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