Staying Busy

 

By the time this post makes it to the internet, it will be July 4th, 2020. The year that has been a dumpster fire from near the start and doesn’t look any better in the near future. This has been the year of No March Madness. In its place was Quarantine Madness. It has been down hill from there. I’ve tried not to make this blog a political one. All I’m going to say is a line from a song from the 1970’s, “Come on, people now, Smile on your brother, everybody get together, Try to love one another right now.” Yes, that is a line from the ’ song, Get Together. I love music from the 70’s. It’s the best music, and it is my music. And let’s face it the words are as true now as they were then.

I have to admit that I’ve been pretty good about quarantining. Mostly because my wife won’t let me do anything outside of home other than what is absolutely necessary. My trips out have been limited to about four short trips to the neighborhood hardware store and four trips to the doctors’ office, including outpatient surgery. So, I’m starving for some human interaction and conversation. Don’t get me wrong. I love my wife, but I would love to have a conversation about the merits of one dovetailing technique or another. YouTube can only go so far. My wife thinks I’m losing it when I start talking back to Stumpy Nubs on my computer. But since I fall into the high risk group due to age and a preexisting condition, I’ll have to stick it out.

I have been able to get some things accomplished in the shop. Organization has been the big deal. Since March I’ve put up part of one wall of insulation, hung cabinets on that wall, built a charging station for my cordless drills, built a stand for my Hollow Chisel Mortiser, built a scrap bin, hung a lumber storage rack, built a cabinet for under the wing of my table saw, and I’m getting ready to start on a miter saw station. So I’ve been busy with shop projects. I’ve also refinished two antiques that were of some import to our family. This first was my late mother-in-law’s Singer Treadle Sewing Machine. My wife is quite happy with it and it has been placed in a spot of great visibility in our living room. The other antique was a side table that my mother had rescued from a dirt-floored outbuilding, at my grandparents’ farm 30 plus years ago. Of course, I covered it in the last post.

SingerMoms Table

I still have enough antique refinishing projects to keep me busy for a while. Let’s see, there’s a Gentlemen’s Dresser, a Jelly Cupboard, a Pie Safe, a Craftsman Rocker, and a Craftsman Settee. The Pie Safe, the Rocker, and the Settee are all stripped and ready for sanding and new finish. The dresser is partially stripped and in need of much TLC. And last but not least the Jelly Cupboard needs a lot of TLC. It was rescued from that same outbuilding that my mom’s side table came from. It is going to need some replacement parts made, so I’m saving it for last so it can have my full attention. The only other project left to finish up is my granddaughter’s Pencil Post bed. I took a break from it due to an imagined error that I made. The more I thought about it, the more I decided that it was not an error. But the break did me some good anyway.

So I’m going to wrap this all up. I hope you are able to enjoy the fourth of July as best as you can. Just remember to be safe. This holiday is all about our freedom and what good is that if you’re not healthy. So wear your mask, give your friends and family one of those virtual 6 foot away hugs. Before you know it baseball will be back in some form and all will be right with the world again. Till next time.

KT

Resolutions or Revolutions? (Nah, just Plain Goals)

 

First off, let me say to all, Happy New Year. Now comes the fun part. Are you making any resolutions? Let me say I prefer to set goals. If you want to call them resolutions, that’s fine too. I just have never been real big on making resolutions for the New Year. Sometimes those seem more like a revolution in your life. Me, I’m getting older, so I have to say I’m kind of set in my ways. And that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

Don’t get me wrong. I do have things that I want to accomplish this year. It’s just my world isn’t going to stop spinning if they don’t happen. This has been my view of New Year’s resolutions for some time. I’ve made life altering resolutions before and when they didn’t happen, nothing went wrong in my world. So instead of resolutions, I’m going to share with you a few of my goals for 2020.

First Goal: Bring some organization and just a general clean up to my shop. If you saw my shop right now you’d wonder how I ever got anything done. I need to be able to put things in their place. Unfortunately, that can’t happen till I get walls and insulation up. I have cabinets to put up on the walls but right now they are sitting on the floor, taking up space. So this is a big goal for 2020.

Second Goal: Being more productive, in general. This can mean in the shop or just in my life. With the RA, my life can revolve around fatigue brought on by the disease. It’s not a fun thing to deal with but I’ve got to get myself a kick in the rear end. If I don’t do it, who else can. While the disease was not my fault, how I handle the struggles it brings, is my responsibility. I won’t sit back and feel sorry for myself. Sometimes it would be easy to throw myself a “Pity Party” but I won’t allow it.

Third goal: Write more. I started this blog because I like to write and tell a story. Last year, I’ve had a few lapses in my writing. I would like to remedy that right from the start of the year. I have other opportunities to write, I just have to do it. And that is my intention.

Fourth Goal: Teach more. Over the last couple of years I have been involved in teaching at the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild. The bulk of it has been helping out with the Basic Woodworking class. But I have also taught a couple of classes on Building a Workbench and Building a Six-Board Chest. I found these to be rewarding experiences. I look forward to more such experiences.

And the final goal is to prepare myself for the future. Let’s face it. None of us want to work the 9 to 5 gig forever. I’m 61 years old and the idea of Social Security is within sight. So it’s time for me to put some effort into preparing for that inevitability. As I’ve heard it said recently, in regards to Tom Brady, Father Time is undefeated. So I’ve got to do the best I can to prepare for it. Granted I wish I had done that years ago but hindsight is always 20/20.

So what are your resolutions? Are they life altering? Just remember that the world won’t end if you don’t succeed this year. There’s always next year…

Till next time.

KT

Catching Up

As I’m sitting here, sipping a cup of hot chocolate, I realized I hadn’t written in about 7 months. For this I apologize to whatever readers I have out there and to myself. You see writing this blog is something I enjoy. It gives me an outlet to share a bit of my world with yours. A lot has happened in the last seven months. So, I guess, I’ll try to get you all caught up.

The last weekend in June and the first weekend in July, I taught another class on building a Holtzapffel workbench. I only had two students this time, but all seem to have a good time and were happy with the results. To be truthful, only one of the benches has been finished. The other is waiting to be finished after a family emergency took that student away from the class before completion. But I’m still helping him out, when time allows.

Also, in July, was a week of vacation for the wife and me. I used the excuse of a traditional lobster bake, in Maine, to make it to Lie-Nielson Toolworks’ Annual Open House. Of course, we also spent the better part of a week in Boston, as her part of the trip. This Missouri boy learned all about how to make it around a large Metropolis on a subway. It was definitely a new experience for us. We took Amtrak’s Downeaster, on Saturday morning to Portland, Maine. There we rented a car and made the drive to Warren, Maine, home of Lie-Nielson Toolworks.

Unfortunately, we were a little late making it to Warren and we missed out on the demonstrations offered during the Open House. But I was able to catch up and renew some acquaintances, as well as make some new. I was recruited by Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild Director of Training, Norm Carpenter, to hand out some brochures to prospective teachers. A virtual who’s who of woodworking talent, Phil Lowe, Matt Bickford, Peter Follansbee, and Megan Fitzpatrick. There were more, but that’s all I was able to speak to before the dinner started. After a wonderful lobster dinner, we were treated to a great presentation by Peter Follansbee. The keynote speaker was supposed to be Thomas Moser but he took ill the night before, so Peter stepped up and did an outstanding job, with no preparation. All in all, it was a great trip.

Once we got back to good ole Kansas City, it was back to the salt mine. My niece, Stephanie, was getting married in October and she asked me for help making centerpieces, for her reception. You see, she was the Flower Girl for my wife and my wedding, 23 years ago, at the age of not quite, 5 years old. So of course, I was going to help her.

All she needed was 30-something log cookies, 12 inches in diameter and finished with polyurethane. I figured, “No Problem, Right”. Guess what? Problem! It all started innocent enough. My brother-in-law dropped off the logs that they wanted to use. They were picked out by Stephanie and her mother, from a tree that was taken down on church property where my brother-in-law worked. Perfect, I thought, “Holy logs. What could go wrong?” Of course, that was the start of, let’s call it an adventure.

It all started with both of my chainsaws shooting craps. I ended up renting one from that big orange box store to get the logs cut into manageable sections for the bandsaw. Then came the realization that my bandsaw was about an inch and a half too small to cut perfectly round log cookies. So, I consulted with the Bride and her father. It was determined that she would be okay with one flat spot on each cookie. This gave me enough room to slice them from the log on my bandsaw. One crisis averted. Next, I coated each cookie with Pentacryl wood stabilizer. That worked good at keeping the bark attached to each cookie, a required preference. Then after a couple of days of drying time, the cracks started.

Thank God only about a third of them cracked, but I was left with figuring how to repair the cracked cookies. My first solution was to do an epoxy pour, just like on the internet. After the mess associated with about 5 pours, I decided to find another way. That other way was a good, old fashioned butterfly inlay. As stated on a T-shirt I purchased over the summer, “Stops Cracks in their Tracks.” Next came the usual sanding and sanding some more. That was followed by the numerous coats of polyurethane. Then it was wrap them up, box them up, and deliver to the Bride a couple of weeks before the wedding. I snuck a special cookie, with a heart shaped inlay in with the rest of them. I figured it would be for the Bridal parties table. Let me state emphatically, this was a learning experience and I love my niece dearly. But, if I’m ever asked by anyone else, ever, to do this again, I will politely decline.

With the wedding behind us, life moved on in its usual organized chaotic way. I took a couple of classes. I learned making Shaker Oval Boxes from John Wilson and made a knife in a class with Mike Jones, of the KCWG. I also taught a class, for the first time, on making a traditional six board chest. All students seemed to be happy with their chest when all were done. So I’ll call it a success. One other thing, in the middle of all the chaos, I turned 60 years old. A milestone birthday at which, I used to think my life would be over by then. Guess what? I’m not about to stop, now. I may move a bit slower and creak when I move, but I’m still moving.

Tonight, was the annual Christmas dinner at the Guild. Awards were handed out, warm wishes exchanged, and a great meal was had by all. So, I take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. And with that, I think we’re all caught up. See you next year.

KT

STIR CRAZY

I borrowed this title from a 1980 Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor movie because it seemed appropriate. That movie is about two guys that get sent to prison for something they didn’t do, Much like the rest of us (Insert Laugh Track here). But where that movie was filled with real humor, much of what we are dealing with does not. I have been confined to home since March 24th. The furthest I’ve ventured out was to take a walk around the block with my wife, Vickie, and my dog, Holly. Of course, we were careful to keep our socially acceptable distance from neighbors we would encounter. The rest of my time has been spent either in my shop, my small corner of the basement, or in my easy chair watching various stuff on the TV.

Originally, the “Stay at Home” order for Kansas City was to end today, April 24th. But it has since been stretched out to May 15th for Kansas City and May 3rd for the whole State of Missouri. Since I live and work within the city limits, I’ll be here at home till at least the May 15th date. So I’ll be making the most of my time, hopefully, in the shop.

I’ve been working on bringing some order back to my shop. I’ve been rearranging things and putting up cabinets, just trying to get it usable again. While I plan to build some other cabinets for a miter saw/hollow chisel mortiser station, I’ve had to put that on hold due to a lack of the necessary plywood for the build. So my miter saw will remain on its foldable stand and I’ll build a small stand for my mortiser out of some construction lumber I have on hand. Then hopefully, I can get back to building again.

Another thing I’ve been doing is catching up on some YouTube videos.  I’ve really been impressed with some of the work being done out there. Some are very well produced and make me envious. It makes me wonder what I could’ve done if I was younger and wasn’t tech challenged. But, I’ve become fans of Mark Spagnoulo, April Wilkerson, and Anne Briggs to name a few. I’ve also kept up with some of the more recognizable names, like Fine Woodworking and Woodsmith podcasts. It has been interesting as to how they’re dealing with the quarantine experience.

**Time Shift** Woo, it’s now 30 days later! Wow, how did that happen? I guess I’ve been watching too many comic book videos on YouTube. Sorry about that, let me get you all caught up.

It is now Memorial Day weekend and my life has gone in some different directions. First off, after much discussion with my wife, I retired from my job as a bail bonds agent that I had held for over 30 years. Being an older gentleman, with an underlying condition, it didn’t seem like a wise thing for me to go back to a job where I would be exposed to too many chances for Covid-19 infection. So now my work time in my shop has increased and I’ll see what I can do with that.

With the time off, I’ve been working on refurbishing and restoring some antiques we’ve had sitting around the house. Most have been stored away, in various levels of restoration. The first one I finished up was my late Mother-in-law’s treadle Singer sewing machine. It is technically not done yet as I need to find a new belt for it. It worked for about 30 seconds before the belt broke. Oh, well.

The project I have on my bench, right now, is an oak side table that my mother started refinishing about 30 or 35 years ago. I’ve never seen it in one piece, but all the pieces are there. I found it in her basement when my sister and I were cleaning out her house, after she passed away. I remembered her telling me she started on it but lost some screws and left it in pieces and never got back to it. I had to do some repair work to it. The top had gotten broke in two and had to be glued back together. Also, one of the legs had spent to much time on the dirt floor of an old outbuilding at my grandparent’s farm. With a little bit of two part epoxy wood filler, it is good as new. It may not look perfect, but I’ll put that leg to the back, against the wall.

And the last thing to tell you about involves my dog, Holly. Holly went missing for four days last week. I don’t know about you other dog owners, but my dog is a part of the family. Last Sunday morning my wife got up early and fed the dog and let her out. We have a nice big yard and it’s all fenced. That yard is Holly’s domain and nothing had better interlope upon it. I had slept in a little bit and when I went to bring her in she was no where to be found. The gate had been bent and pushed open. Holly was gone!

We did all the things that you’re supposed to when your pet goes missing. We searched the neighborhood, we posted flyers, I posted on the necessary social media sites and filed a report with the local shelters. I was devastated. This is my buddy, my #shopdog. Then the story gets interesting.

The next day, my wife called the neighbor that lives directly behind us. This is an elderly lady that Holly was fond of. She did her best to protect her yard too. The neighbor asks if Holly had been hurt by the deer since she hadn’t seen her for a couple of days. My wife asked “What deer?” Then came the rest of the story. A doe had her baby in my neighbor’s back yard the night before and it was close to the fence. Holly took exception with this deer being that close to her yard and being in the neighbor’s yard. As she proceeds to bark, the doe gets upset about this loud intruder and has to protect her fawn. She stomped toward the fence but Holly didn’t back away. So she jumped the fence and went after Holly. They tangled and Holly apparently got the worst of it as they pushed thru the gate, at the other end of the yard, and she ran away to save herself. The doe went back, gathered up her fawn and moved on. The worst part of this story was we didn’t find out the details till a day and a half later. But it all worked out for the best in the end. On Thursday morning, we were about to go check out a possible sighting, when the phone rang. A neighbor, from down the street, said there was a dog, that looked like the flyer sitting outside our house. I opened the front door and there she was, sitting pretty waiting on me to open the door. She promptly hobbled in and proceeded to drink a whole bowl of water. We had the Vet check her out and other than the pads on her feet being inflamed and a bit worn raw, she was none the worse for wear. All’s well that ends well.

Well, I guess the title of this post turned out to be mostly appropriate. Things really did go a little crazy. With my new retirement, I hope to post more and try to be more on the woodworking topic. But hey, we have to look out for our little buddies, too. So I hope you’ve had a safe Memorial Day and please remember what the holiday is really all about. So many died so you could have that cookout. Remember them. Till next time.

KT

Woodworking in a time of COVID-19

 My apologies to author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, (Love in the Time of Cholera), but the title seemed appropriate for this time in history. I suspect there will be a great many projects turned out over the next few months by my woodworking brethren, out there. Here in Kansas City, we’re under a “Stay-Home” order until at least April 24th. Unless your job is deemed essential, you are to stay home. My job was not deemed as such. So I’m at home watching TV and working on a long list of things I had been putting off for far too long.

Unfortunately, my other woodworking home, the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild, was also forced to close until this passes. So those who have a home shop are forced to work at home. The unfortunate ones who use the Guild’s shop are left out to suffer this closure. While I have my own shop, my path is still complicated. About a month back I started the task of finally putting up fiberglass insulation and walls. I was due to go to the BIG Orange Box Store and purchase more insulation, but I got sidetracked, again. My shop is a bigger mess than before. I’m told that Home Centers and Hardware stores are considered essential. But that doesn’t help me much. If you read my last post, you’d know I’m one of those lucky people with the suppressed immune systems and I’m over 60. So I’m not taking any chances.

So I’ve been working on a few things that I can work on in the house. I have a little corner of the basement where I can do some things. Right now I’m finishing up the restoration of an antique walnut medicine cabinet that the wife and I picked up a few years ago. It was probably close to 20 years ago, so I’m a bit overdue. When I finish the cabinet, hopefully tomorrow, I’ll be starting on finishing up my mother-in-law’s antique Singer sewing machine, for my wife. Then there’s the antique Gentleman’s Dresser, the antique pie safe, and the antique jelly cupboard. As you can see, I have enough to keep me occupied. I’m sure I’m not the only guy that is paying for the “I’ll do it when I have more time” line. Brothers, I feel your pain.

But, before I wrap up this post, I want to say a little something about the real heroes out there. Those that face the COVID-19 virus head on everyday, our health care workers and first responders. Their sacrifice can’t go unrecognized. While my wife has retired after 40 years as a nurse, my daughter, Amy, is out there taking care of patients during this difficult time. She has to change her clothes and wash them before going into her house to see her children. She is just one of thousands, across the country that is on the front lines for your well being. So keep them all in your prayers and don’t forget to Social Distance.

KT

Frustration

It’s been a pretty eventful last couple of months, here in Kansas City. Our Chiefs came from behind in three straight games to win the NFL Championship. That kept, most of us, on the edge of our seats. But when it was all over the town celebrated like it was 2015. The only exception was everything was RED instead of BLUE. Of course, I’m referring back to our Royals victory in the 2015 World Series. Of course, don’t let me forget, our soccer team, Sporting KC, won the MLS Cup in 2013. Exciting times were had by all.

But while all of this was great, life has a way of changing everything when you don’t want it to. One thing I haven’t written much about is dealing with my Rheumatoid Arthritis. It has a bad habit of screwing with my life in the most inopportune times. And recently has been one of those times.

Most of the time, you would never know I have Rheumatoid Disease, unless you noticed my hands. The biologic drug that I get monthly infusions of, keeps me mobile with little issues, except one. It suppresses my immune system making me vulnerable to all sorts of bugs. This is mostly a problem for me during cold and flu season. I always make sure that I get the recommended flu shot for that year. But it’s not always enough. I usually end up with a cold that leads to a sinus infection, which leads to bronchitis, which leads to holding my infusions until everything has run its course. The result of this is pain and stiffness along with the loss of shop time. The pain and stiffness I can deal with, mostly. I mean I’ve always got some of it but right now it’s a bit more intense.

What I really hate, is missing out on shop time. My shop time is therapeutic for me. It’s my time away from life and to be alone with my thoughts. But when I’m unable to have my infusion the pain becomes fatigue and I just don’t have the energy to enjoy my time in the shop.

This may sound like all I’m doing is complaining. I’m sorry. It wasn’t meant to be. It was meant to be an explanation to some of what a person with Rheumatoid Disease goes thru. We may look normal but underneath life’s a pain, literally. So if you know someone who is struggling with Rheumatoid Disease be kind. While they may look okay they may be dealing with a whole lot more than you know.

Thus ends my little rant. Please don’t take it personally. My next post will hopefully be more upbeat with more woodworking excitement or a reasonable facsimile.

 

KT

Laziness & Old Friends Lost

How do they do it? Other bloggers are able to put out content on a consistent level. I managed it for a short time, but lately I’ve had a bit of “Writer’s Block”. I know what I want to write about but when I get in front of the keyboard everything goes blank. That’s been a large part of the reason that I haven’t written anything since April. Another reason is I’ve been struck with an extreme case of laziness. That’s right, I said it. Laziness!

I was supposed to have given you a day by day account of the class I took with Mike Pekovich, from Fine Woodworking Magazine. Let me say right now that it was a great experience and I’m glad I took the class. My wife says she loves the cabinet and shows it off to visitors that stop by. Only thing is it’s sitting on a console table because she has no clue where to hang it. I truly enjoyed doing the Kumiko panel that adorns the cabinet. I’ve even made a couple of additional framed pieces of Kumiko. I’m even planning a class, for the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild, to pass on what I learned from Mike.

The other kink, in my plans, was being laid up for 6 weeks, following a total replacement of my right knee. More time that was available to me to write, but I spent that time watching TV instead. Binging, I think they call it. But, I digress. I had the time to write and had plans to use it, but I didn’t. Laziness, again. I must say though, my walk has gotten a lot better since the surgery. So, I can’t complain too much.

As the holiday season approached, I’ve spent some time in the shop. It was great to get back there after being laid up for a while. So far, I’ve turned 9 pens, which were gifts for my coworkers. I’ve already handed them out and I think they liked them. I’ve also made one cutting board, which will be a gift for a dear friend. I’m through making for this holiday season but I’m planning for next year, already.

Probably, the last thing that interrupted my writing and contributed to my Writer’s Block was the passing of my dear friend, Tom. We had lost track of each other and had not seen each other since my wedding almost twenty-five years ago. He had been my best friend during a time when I needed one. We were room mates at a time when we were both recovering from our first marriages ending. It was a time when we both drank too much and realized we had to stop. We supported each other as we both got back out into the dating scene. He was a great friend and a great guy.

Tom’s ex-wife, Jackie, sent me a message on Facebook, that he was sick and in the hospital. She said if I wanted to see him I should go, because the outcome was not promising. I went to see him but he was not awake. A couple of days later, I got the text that he was gone. All I could think about was time wasted. I’ve looked for any of the good that came out of his passing. One was reconnecting with Jackie and the other was gaining a new Facebook friend, Tom’s daughter, Alexandra. She probably doesn’t remember when we met face to face. She was about a year old when she attended my wedding. She can be heard and seen briefly, in the video of the wedding. She was a bit of a chatterbox.

I guess the best advice I can give anyone is to make time. Seek out that lost friend before it’s too late. Enjoy life. Sorry if this post turned out to be a bummer. I’ll get back to the regular scheduled stuff in my next post. May you have a Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year. ‘Til next time.

KT

Renewal

Spring has finally sprung. All that is, is in the glory of renewal. Just as Easter symbolizes a rebirth, so does Spring. The trees are budding, the grass is greening, and all is good. Today was my eldest son’s birthday. Like many parents have experienced, he moved his family halfway across the country. This means birthday greetings were limited to a pleasant chat on the phone with him and his family. It was a good visit but not quite the same as face to face.

How does this fit into the topic of renewal you might ask? Well, it’s like this, I wasn’t always the best father while he was growing up. His mother and I divorced when he was around ten years old. It wasn’t the most amicable situation. But with age has come reflection, wisdom, and the hope of redemption. My redemption, I hope.

Due to custody arrangements, I was limited to every other weekend with him and his siblings. I missed out on so very much of their young lives. I worked long and odd hours. I missed school programs, Scout meetings and other important events. It wasn’t till many years later I realized the stupidity of my past and decided it was time to make changes in my life. For the most part, the change has been good, though not always easy.

While I was looking for something, in a storage area in our basement, I came across something that made me stop and take note. It was a tool tote, that Andy had made for me many years ago. It had been a Father’s Day present he made while in Cub Scouts. It still touches my heart when I look at it. It’s nothing fancy. Just some boards nailed together with a wooden dowel for the handle. It’s painted gray and he painted pictures of a hammer, saw, and screwdriver on it. It was a nice little tote and I loved it.

At that time in my life woodworking was not the passion of my life. I wouldn’t take it up till several years later. I took part in other crafts to keep the creative juices flowing. I used the tote to carry those items around. Since RA had taken some of the finer, intricate skills from my hands, the tote had been put away, till it was rediscovered. With its rediscovery comes renewal. Renewal of purpose. Renewal of family and faith. The faith in family.

So, my son Andy, this blog post is for you. I’m not a rich man, with lots of money to shower you with. But I am a renewed man with much love to share. So Happy Birthday, Andy. I love you.

KT

I Don’t Have ADHD. (Oh look, there’s a squirrel)

That’s kind of how I’ve felt, lately. There always seems to be something I need to do, or start to do and something else gets my attention and there it went. I had plans for a couple of other posts, but that damn squirrel ran by and I had to chase it. Of course, I didn’t catch it. But I’ve decided to learn from my shop dog, Holly. Stay on task till the job is finished or someone makes you come inside. In her case, it usually involves camping out under a tree, with a squirrel or a possum in it, staring straight up till I make her come in. Even then, she doesn’t always budge.

I know, you’re asking yourself; “Where is he going with all this about dogs and treed possums and squirrels?” Well it’s got to do with staying on task. My shop is full of projects that are half complete or in pieces. They are that way because something else got my attention and distracted me. Mind you it was probably one of the other unfinished projects that distracted me. But you get my point. Focus is what I’ve been lacking. Focus is what I need to find.

I just started reading Mike Pekovich’s book The Why and How of Woodworking. While I’m not ready to give a review, I’m only on a couple of chapters, it looks like a fascinating book. I just finished the chapter titled “Make Shop Time Matter” and let me say it hit me like a ton of bricks. Words that I need to hear to get myself focused on the task at hand. Even telling me that it’s okay to occasionally set a project aside and come back to it later, or maybe, not at all. The main theme that I took from it was get to the shop every day, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes.

This made me take stock of the unfinished projects in my shop and decide how to proceed. There’s the cradle I started, for my daughter, after she told me she was pregnant with her first child. All the pieces were cut out of some beautiful curly cherry. The joinery was never done so the pieces are taking up valuable room in my shop. And besides that, my granddaughter is now 8 years old. In the words of Homer Simpson “DOH!”

There’s a gift project, that I started for my oldest granddaughter, 9 years ago. Luckily, if I get it finished, she can still enjoy it. Her birthday comes up in July and I hope to have it ready for her then. I won’t say what it is, because I don’t know if she reads her grandpa’s blog or not. Who knows what a high school junior reads nowadays?

I’m taking a class, from Mr. Pekovich, next month, at the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild. I am really looking forward to it, for many reasons. The class is building a Wall Hanging Kumiko Cabinet. Kumiko is an awesome looking art. I’m looking forward to learning the skill. I hope these crooked hands can manage it. I also look forward to discussing Zen and the Art of Woodworking. Kumiko seems very Zen. I had to get permission from the wife before signing up for the class. When she saw a photo of the Kumiko cabinet, she was sold.

And it starts again. I start on one topic and I got sidetracked by another. It’s even invaded my blogging. So, before I chase that rabbit too far down the hole, I’m going to sign off for this post. If possible, I hope to post a couple of times, during the class with Mr. Pekovich. It may be a short post, but I’ll give it a genuine effort. So, until next time, keep making sawdust.

KT

Winter (Please Go the *#!? Away)

 

You know, I always thought I couldn’t stand to live in a climate where you didn’t have all four seasons. This year I’m rethinking that position. As most of you know, winter this year, in the Midwest has been brutal. Just when you think things might be warming up, BAM, another round of snow and frigid temperatures. This has made some serious dents in my shop time.

Due to my years of procrastination, my shop has no insulation and only a couple of space heaters to keep it warm. When the outside temps are in the 30’s, I can put on a jacket and work with little discomfort. Unfortunately, lately the temperature has been in the 10’s and 20’s, too cold for my crooked hands. The medical community calls the resulting depression SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. What I call it can’t be printed here, as this is a “Family Friendly” Blog.

I have been getting a few hours of relief every Thursday, when I help with the Basic Woodworking Class, at the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild. Nothing like the smell of fresh cut Oak or Cherry to lift the spirits. Plus, helping to bring the craft to new students is uplifting to my psyche.

The rest of the time, I’ve been searching the wide world of woodworking on the internet. It’s amazing some of the talent that is out there. I have several people that I have followed for years, like Christopher Schwarz, at Lost Art Press, and the Wood Whisperer, Marc Spagnoulo. Whether the written word or video, they always keep me informed. But there are others I’ve found whose work I have enjoyed, George Vondriska, with the Woodworkers’ Guild of America, April Wilkerson, Matt Cremona, Anne of All Trades, or just the Fine Woodworking Magazine website. All offer entertaining and informative content.

Some of these “Content Providers” are obviously sponsored by various tool companies. When you notice that every tool they use is orange or green you kind of figure that out. Some people think this is terrible and a complete sell out. To my way of thinking, more power to them if they’re providing quality content. Hey, I’m open to a sponsorship if some wonderful tool company wants to provide me with tools. All though, seeing my face, on a video, might scare small children and animals.

Enough of my ramblings, for now. I’ve got to go fire up the snowblower to clean the 4 inches of partly cloudy off my driveway. Be safe out there and I hope you’re making sawdust whenever possible.

Kevin