Subtitled "Epiphany all over again"
Hope all of you who have been experiencing the polar vortex weather got
through it OK. As usual, our weather in Alaska has been just the opposite
of most of the states--warm and wet.
My son Ben and I have pretty much finished up the shop construction project
that started last fall, and a few of the old tools have come out of
storage. Briefly, it's da shit--we really like it. Warm, well lit, and
cozy in every way. It's actually Ben's shop, and it has been described
variously as a dog house (e.g. a place to live in case of emergency), or an
annex to the man cave. It has been a respite from our occasional cold
weather because the whiskey doesn't freeze, and even the beer usually stays
I recently made friends again with some of the Stanley bench planes. As
usual, I had to learn all over again how to use them, and of course, had to
re-develop and re-do the sharping and fettling routines from scratch. I
figure this is about the fifth iteration for my planing epiphany. Among
the old friends that came back to life are a Stanley #5 (plain ole jack
plane, Jeff), with a low knob, two patent dates, and a corrugated sole.
Just reciting those features takes me back about 20 years to a time when
the list conversation was deeply concerned with issues like that.
Among the other select few metallic planes that we brought out of storage
is a #4 smooth plane with a Ron Hock blade that still shows the original
grinding marks from Ron's own hand; and a cute little Lie-Nielsen bronze
block plane that polished up like the jewel it is. Ooo-ooh--and the
metallic plow plane. And the compass plane. And the whole scary-sharping
setup. The wet grinder. Yeah, I remember all that stuff.
So, anyway, the new shop is one of the first steps in my boat project, and
rather than actually start on cutting wood for the boat, I decided to start
with some practice to get back into the mood. We have a few sticks of
rough cut white spruce that was harvested several years ago, rafted down
the river, then stored in a neglected pile of logs for a few years too
I milled the last few sticks of it last summer, and a few of the logs have
developed heart rot, so my planing practice started out with, well, let's
call it spalted wood. Really crappy on one end, but very pretty, once it
was worked up a little. I expect that it will go to shelving, although we
are still considering the furniture and shop lay out. Everything in the
new shop is open, uncluttered, clean, and well lit;much different from my
usual shop space. We hope to keep it that way, some how. We have a choice
of old benches, including the one I used for holdfast testing back in my
holdfast days. Maybe not quite right for the new shop, but still a
possibility under consideration. I recently fell across a video about a
small bench that uses holdfasts and other traditional clamping, so that
might be a better choice.
I got out a saw vice and related tools recently and touched up the sad
looking panel saw that traces its origin back to my father. From the
style, he presumably bought it new some time in the early '50's, when I was
about so high (about a meter, Jeff). It's an 8-point Disston crosscut that
has pretty much always been my go-to hand saw, and has needed just a little
TLC for about twenty years. It helped build my house during that time.
As someone mentioned the last time I mentioned the boat project, the new
shop is actually smaller than the length of the boat, so a lot of the wood
working issues will have to spread into the bigger automotive shop it's
attached to. Among the first planing projects are the two stringers, of
clear vertical grain Doug fir, 16' long. There's a lot to look forward to.
TTFN from Galena,