I don’t want this blog to be a soap box from which I preach, I am no preacher. But from time to time I cannot hold it in. So here…
Two people that have impacted me lately.
First: I have recently been reading Bill Coperthwaite’s book “A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity”. it is a great book, there is just so much in it.
Second: The other day I went to the chapel at Eastern Nazarene College where author, and activist Shane Claiborne reminded us to take action in our communities showing the love of God. They are literally taking guns and smithing them into garden tools! How awesome is that?!
Both, Bill and Shane, are speaking volumes to where I am right now, especially in this political era.
I want to give you an excerpt from Mr. Coperthwaite’s book that has been very timely this week.
“For many, the knowledge of a Jesus, a Lao-tzu, a Buddha, or a Gandhi is complete and unassailable. But we do them and their vision a disservice when we follow them rather than using what they have taught to build upon as we strive toward our goal of a better society.
When we merely follow another, we take a potentially creative mind out of service – our own. We tie up A natural resource, just as much as when we put away money in the mattress.
We don’t need more disciples, we need more apprentices, the difference being that an apprentice serves as a follower only temporarily and is expected to go on and work independently. Wise apprentices recognize that the masters are always a part of them, that within them is a partnership of apprentice and master artisan, including all the other masters that came before.
Good apprentices know that they are in the process of becoming masters and that as responsible artisans they must seek to improve upon the knowledge entrusted to them and go further.
As apprentices we are not better than those who went before. We are a part, an extension of our predecessors, the newest buds on an ancient, living tree. If we do not reach up to the sun and down into the soil for nourishment to help the tree grow, we have not been faithful to the trust invested in us.
It is always easier to take the words of a Jesus, a Gandhi, a Marx, or a Confucius as constituting Holy Writ. This involves less reading, less study, less thought, less conflict, and less independent searching, but it also means less growth toward maturity.”
Just something to think about, I pray that you will take action for the greater good.
Here on the South Shore, we had a snow day on Tuesday. I love snow days, though shoveling is getting old, especially now that I feel it more. Snow days are family days for us. Whenever I can, I like to get the kids exposed to woodworking. I was recently talking with a friend of mine saying that I am always looking for something quick to carve for the kids to play with. He asked if I had seen the gnomes. Nope, I haven’t.
We went outside and found a stick about 3/4″ diameter, it happened from an apple tree. “Much too big.” He said. Typically one would look for something about the size of your pinky finger. He brought it into his shop and cut a couple of 6″ to 8″ lengths (enough to hold on to while carving). And showed me how to do it.
Suniya and I went out the night before the storm to gather a few sticks. We found one from a maple, one from a mulberry bush and a pruning off our pear tree.
Start out about 1/2″ down by cutting around the circumference at 90°. I do this by pinching the work between my thumb and knife and rotating the top away from me. Just go through the bark a bit.
Then cut a notch out about an eighth to 7/64″ (please note the sarcasm implied). This will define the brim of the gnome’s hat.
Now shape the hat. It can be a straight up point or you can at a notch to make the hat have a bend. It’s up to you on the character of the gnome, be as crazy as you want it’s only a few minutes out of your day if it doesn’t work out. Besides it’s a tinkering day (rainy or snowy).
Cut in the gnome’s beard simply by making a swooping cut about half an inch down from the brim of the hat. Utmost control of the knife is required as a slip would take the brim of the hat clean off.
Lastly cut the gnome from the stick. Take care when doing this making sure you are cutting him square off. You don’t want a drunk gnome, they are a bit ornery.
The most fun part is allowing the kiddos to be creative in coloring these little things. They love it!
The only problem is, they add up quick.
We’ve used oil paint, sharpies, watercolors, colored pencils and crayons to color these things with.
I have been working in a nice little town called Whitman these last couple of weeks. On my way to the job site the fist day a sign jumped out at me that read “Irresistible Treasures: antiques and collectibles”. I knew I needed to check this place out, something was calling me.
Two weeks later, I walked in and introduced myself to who seemed to be in charge of the joint. I promptly mentioned my reason for stopping was to find an old tool that was in usable condition. He said “they be out back in da shed.” He disappeared as I started walking through the beautifully arranged and not so cluttered as the average antique shop. I went through the back door of the barn to see the front door of the shed. As I was walking down to the shed an older gentleman met me outside. Again I introduced myself and he himself, “Ed’s mu name.” We talked for a while as I rummaged through the not so neatly organized boxes and shelves. I saw only a few things that I thought I should need at some point or another. I did find a decent Stanley no. 48 (pictured above) and a nice buck bros’ gouge for bit more than was in my wallet at the time. I declined his price tags and said I needed to get going. “I’d like you to see something” he said and walked back into the barn with me.
Right inside the back door of the barn was this large dovetailed and paneled box. I believe it is made of walnut. The six panels have beautiful burl veneer on the raised fields.
The construction is quite stout, 1″ thick top, sides and bottom, and the stiles and rails are also 1″ thick. “What’s this for?” He asked. I couldn’t judge by the cover, I needed to open it up.
The case opens in half to reveal a side with a bottom row of five drawers two rows of brass tool holding racks and four strange hooks on the side walls. The interior paneled partition has another brass tool rack and several brass hooks of two different sizes.
swinging out the middle partition showed three wooden tool racks with tons of small square holes for the tools to be placed along with five more hooks.
It’s a spectacular tool cabinet, I just don’t know what sort of tools filled its racks and hooks. My assumption is that with all the small holes in the wooden racks they held files or rasps. That leads me to believe this was a patternmakers cabinet. I’m not really positive.
I would love to know if anyone out there could identify this. It’s a solid work of craftsmanship for whatever it was employed for.
I’ve got some reading to do!
And thanks to the old tools email list for the “galootaclaus” world wide gift exchange for the beautiful plow plane with a set of irons. Not pictured is season 32 of the woodwrights shop!
I was blessed to be able attend the first Fest last year. The hootenanny alone is worth the price tag! Then add world class artisans, great fellowship, a beautiful setting, fantastic food and lots of coffee… Duuuuude!!
I’ll be there… And so should you.
First task of the day: scribe the flooring to fit around the chimney. I don’t particularly like scribing anything to brick. It’s a long process and typically takes a couple of practice runs with a template. We don’t have time on this job, for anything. (Long story, perhaps a future blog post.)
With compass in hand, being careful to keep perpendicular to the bricks, I traced out every nook and cranny of the chimney’s surface onto my board. Then cutting away the bulk of the waste with a saw I came to my line with my knife. Test fit- carve, test fit- carve test fit— carve, test fit—- carve; test fit- DONE. Install.
And this is where the joy of the task comes in, with a cut like this.
Go get yourself a perfect knife. It’s Christmas time.