Even with nothing shorter than 1 foot saved, the treasured scrap pile of potentially useful pieces grows and grows, but, remarkably, no piece is ever quite the right size whenever I go looking for something. So it grows and grows. Once, in my entire life, did I find a piece I could use. So year after year, the pile grows, occasionally to be thinned out (usually with much wrenching) to be burned, and then grow again.
Splintery, irascible hemlock, redwood that slivers, lacewood that makes the plane chatter, maple that tears out every which way, rowed mahogany that refuses to decide which direction is best, amaranth that produces chips like bits of metal, and zebrano that sends off showers of sparks from the bandsaw — they all respond better with quietness and a sharp, gentle caress than determined, brute force.
I’m not sure I would like to be sawn apart and cut up in a hurry, but treat me gently and explain what you’re doing and I might relax a little and submit better to a greater good. After all, passing into a more enduring state as an admired piece of furniture could be better than rotting in the earth, gradually to be consumed by tiny armies of voracious insects . . .
Looking at the whole forest makes it difficult to identify an individual tree, but that’s precisely what the forest is: a collection of individual trees. So to understand the whole you must be aware of the individuals. What is furnituremaking? The result might be a particular piece of furniture, but in reality the particular piece is really a collection (sympathetically arranged, of course, in order to make a coherent whole) of individual pieces. Pieces such as the various structural members, the individual joints, the type of finish, etc. But each of these are also ‘wholes’ comprised of numerous separate pieces. In the case of an individual structural member, for example, these are the wood, its shaping, its seasoning, its relative size, and so on. How far back do we need to go to be able to start at the real beginning? The truth is we can never get there, unless like the quantum physicist, we descend to the level of split atoms and beyond. So what to do? Start anywhere, and work backwards AND forwards. It doesn’t matter. We are all part of an infinite continuum. It all ends up entroposized, just enjoy whatever part of the process you happen to find yourself in.
Thinking about a new course for furnituremaking for The Woodworking Shows (www.thewoodworkingshows.com) and where to begin? — stunning results, basic techniques, philosophical underpinnings, green relevance, temporal justification, art for art’s sake, woodworking for woodworking’s sake, or just for fun (fun? — frustration, discipline, masochism?). Never mind, just pick up the plane, make sure it’s tuned, and take a shaving — aah! there we go . . .
How do trees grow in such tiny areas of earth in city sidewalks? One wonders where the roots go beneath the concrete. When work crews dig up the road to get to water lines and sewer pipes and the whole subterranean infrastructure one never sees the roots of adjacent trees. And how, in very old cities, built on the ruins of previous establishments do the trees find space to grow, and where does the water they need come from. It’s all a mystery to me.
Funny thing about tools and how they have their own permanence. Most of mine (mine?) are secondhand — meaning I am not the first owner. They all belonged (belonged?) to someone else and doubtless will again when I am gone. It must be an interesting conversation they have with other as they group and regroup over the years . . .
It’s that time of year when the woodpile needs attention. Always hard to keep stacking freshly split logs when so many beg to be removed and planed and used for furniture projects. Each pristine section of grain, with an unusual curl or an especially nice color. But if I succumbed to the temptation I would have no wood to burn.
Just when I thought I had everything I need I received the new Tony Murland Antique Tool Auction Catalog and there it was — a skewed mitre plane by Norris, beautiful, and estimated at $12,000 – $15,000!
New schedule for the Woodworking Shows new season — check it out at http://www.blackburnbooks.com/Support/Appearances.html
Plus, something new and exciting this year; it’s all about furnituremaking!
Big wind in Brooklyn with trees in the road, cars crushed and sidewalks blocked—aah, the advent of winter. Time to saw up all that dead wood and start stacking the firewood pile. To the old adage of ‘firewood keeps you warm twice—once when you cut it and once when you burn’—there’s another fun addition: it can also be art. The International Society of Woodstackers (a facebook group) features artistic and innovative ways of creating that woodpile. Check them out and have fun with another autumnal chore.