Sunday, May 10, 2009

You live, you learn, it rains...

There's nothing like life's lessons to get you all reflective and stuff. You see, Charger, Bois, Mystyk, and I got together last Saturday. On the drive home, I pondered the course of the day amidst Steely Dan's greatest hits. Here's what I came up with...

Lesson one: When in the presence of an antique tool dealer, don't answer a question about hand planes - especially Stanley #45's - to your fellow antique tool shopper. When the dealer says a line like "sounds like someone knows their planes" you might be fool enough to feel a little pride. Don't. You just fell into a trap. Now, the dealer knows that you know what you're buying, and might even know that they can go higher on the price for something as a result. Another line to avoid may be "Are you a collector?".

Lesson two: If you're looking for anything serious in a small warehouse of antique tools just ask. It doesn't matter if "ma and pa" look like they wouldn't know the difference between a block plane and a #8, let alone a type 2 #2. Trust me, they know. Just wait until "pa" regales you with tales of selling a Stanley #1 for $800. He'll inevitably mention his stash of planes which he had no intention on selling in the shop. Not those. He's gonna put them on ebay...unless, of course, I want to take a look at them first...
The guy looks like one generation from 18th century Amish and lives in the middle of nowhere, but he's probably got Verizon Fios because Road Runner was too slow for him.

Lesson three: When in an antique tool warehouse loaded with so many tools that you immediately go into sensory overload, take a few pictures to prove your stories later on. No one in the chat room is going to believe that you really had a difficult time walking around because there were so many tools. Or, that you risked injury and a case of Tetanus if you tried to take one off the shelf - causing a "Jenga" effect. And, while you're at it, get a picture or two of your friends...

Lesson four: Always take an opportunity to knock your fellow woodworker down a notch when he is building his own shop from scratch. Lines like "Wow, this is WAY too much natural light" or "With all this room to walk around in, I can't imagine how tiring it will get to do ANYTHING in here". It will make you feel good about your pint sized basement shop - Dan knows better anyway. By the way Rob, I have TWO of those dinky basement windows in MY shop...

Lesson five: in honor of safety week, get Lance on camera when talking about his childhood thumb mangling accident.

Lesson six: you haven't lived until you see a friend have to start his antique 1966 Dodge Charger by first starting up his riding mower. Granted, he was charging up the battery but if you didn't know better, the site of it was pretty funny. I'm still chuckling over it...

Lesson seven: Diner food is always great when you're among good friends.

Lesson eight: Woodworkers talk too much...and too long. Embrace it, and remind your wife as you leave that your return time is give or take an hour or two. She knows anyway, but it's good to let her know that you know that she knows.

Lesson nine: It always storms when traveling east to west on I90. There has never been a time that I've driven that route - even on a train once - that I haven't run into a storm. I don't know why. It just is. At least you had the wind at your back, Rob.

Lesson ten: Never pass on an opportunity to meet up with your Wood Whisperer friends if you can. It is always a good time.

Lance, Dan, and Rob - it was a pleasure. Next time, we'll get pictures.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

In Honor of Safety Week...

Growing up, it seemed to me that all the old time woodworkers were missing at least a finger tip or something. It was almost inevitable that the longer you did woodworking, the more likely you'll lose an appendage along the way. It was just accepted as a part of using power tools, and the really seasoned woodworkers could flip you the bird without having to bend a single finger.

Fast forward to more recent days. I can remember it like it was just, um.... a year ago. Marc got an email from a guy named Brent who's fingers met the moving blades of his jointer - big ouch. I think it really opened our eyes, but none more than Marc's. Among all the things to learn in the woodworking community, one of the least covered was safety. Inspired by Brent's accident, Marc came up with "Safety Week". Sure, we had plenty wise cracks and silly safety technique ideas for him, but it was a great idea and a big success. And now - only a year later - it's even bigger, even more influential, and has inspired so many more to recognize how important it is to apply safe practices in wood working. Bravo Marc. You are hand crafting your most important legacy.

I won't go on about my favorite safety technique or anything like that. I think they're being covered very well among all the blogs and wodworking sites. I will, however, leave you with a little reminder - Marc's first post announcing the first anual safety week...for your nostalgic viewing pleasure:

Happy safety week everyone.