Many years ago when I was in High School I wanted to work in the trades, specifically woodworking. Truthfully I am not sure where the passion came from. My father was very good with his hands and built a camp in the Adirondacks for our family the year I was born (more on that later). But, at that time my parents had not yet gotten smart so I am certain it had nothing to do with an admiration for what my father did (and more on that later, somewhat linked to the first more…)
There were several brothers who were in my High School ahead of me who, after they graduated, started their own woodworking business making and selling furniture. I thought that was cool so I think that is where it came from.
Anyways, my guidance counselor, who based on my recollection was probably one hundred years old, said ‘You are one of those smart kids, you should go to college’. Therefore implying to me that only dumb kids went to trade school. How much I will wonder how my life would have been different if I had not listened to him. But I did. Therefore off to college I went, get a degree in engineering. Fast forward through 1 divorce, 1 child, 2nd wife (who is my soul mate) and 3 wonderful step children I now am starting the adventure that I would have preferred taking 34 years ago.
The year I was born my father built a camp on a lake in the Adirondacks. My mother tells many stories and there are lots of family photos of me and my 3 older brothers and sisters in the building with no windows or playing in the water. He bought a Craftsman table saw for that purpose. As I grew older it was sitting in one of the closets at the camp until the year my Mom could no longer manage the place and as a result of selling it asked everybody what they wanted. Well, I did not have a table saw and thought, why not. Currently that tablesaw is the centerpiece of my shop. It is not the biggest and best Powermatic but it works. The table would be tiny if it had not been for my brother making some wings to extend them. Anyways, it is all I need right now until I figure out my woodworking path and it allows me to keep in touch with my Dad (who passed 23 years ago). Now, he has now become a smart man, even though I do not have the ability to learn directly from him.
I have taken one class, from the admirable Chris Schwarz. I have purchased some new Lee Valley hand planes. I have a beautiful old tool chest I got at an auction. Turns out, as with all things you want at auction, somebody else also wanted it so after bidding it up we reached the point where it was not worth it to me so I dropped out and he won. He immediately approached me and asked if I was bidding on the box or the contents. Well, silly me, I did not even know there was anything in it so when I told him the box his face light up and he offered it to me for a song and I jumped.
I am an avid reader. So I read all about woodworking then try to put what I read in to action. As each day in the shop passes I try something new. This week I ripped a piece of cherry with a handsaw I had picked up at Sears. I realized that this working wood by hand is hard work. I also realized that using power tools does not make you stronger and knowing it was best for me in the long run I took a break and then dove back in.
I am certain that my future woodworking skills are going to involve a combination of both hand and power tools but who knows. Right now I would much rather take the time to thickness a piece of rough cut wood with a planar and use the extra time to make joints and furniture so I do not think I will give up my planar any time soon.
I will be posting my work to this blog as time allows and I do things worth sharing. I know I am not as funny with the written word as Chris but I will try to do my best. Follow along….