Wood shop

I love working with wood, in all its forms.  Every time I cut a piece of wood, or glue two of them together, it is an expression of love in the creation of something useful.

We live in a house that is 110 years old, and is in constant need of repair.  When things need repair or replacement on century old parts, Home Depot doesn’t carry them. Instead, they must be fabricated, and if it involves wood, it is done in my shop.

As I write this, I have a couple birthday / Christmas presents that I am making in various stages of completion.  My shop carries the fragrance of cut pine, and that smell is like an intoxicant to me.  My hands are an honorable rough, as a carpenter’s hands would be, even though the vast majority of my time is spent at a desk tapping out words on a computer.

Wood, however, is near and dear to me, and has been for a long while.

My Dad was not much of a handyman.  He always had tools laying around a work bench, but they were there for emergency purposes, not for hobby.  He taught me some things about woodworking, but it didn’t go much beyond “this is a hammer, and this is a saw.”

My first real foray into woodworking was in the 9th grade, when I signed up for a woodworking class with Mr. Weild.  He never told us if he was in the army, but from the way he commanded a group of 15 year-olds, I’m pretty sure he was a drill sergeant.

But I loved to learn what he was teaching.  I made a sanding block as a first project, because that’s what we were told to do.  It looked like someone’s first project, and I’m pretty sure I got a C on it.  It went uphill from there, and I would spend as much time in the shop as Mr. Weild would allow.  He would come in after school and open the shop, and I would be there until he kicked me out.

The next year I took a Building Trades class with one of my two favorite teachers ever, Karl Nimphius.  Sadly, Karl recently died, but his legacy lives on in every project I undertake.  He taught me how to frame a house, wire a circuit and solder copper pipes.  Every time I hang drywall, I hear him say “Don’t break the paper!”

A couple years ago, I found a new woodworking venue in carving.  I took a class at a Woodcraft store in Loveland, Colorado. When we started, it was the sanding block all over.  I had no knowledge, and less confidence in my ability to make a block of wood look like something recognizable. After a few weeks of making lots of sawdust, a pair of ducks started to appear out of a chunk of basswood.  There is also a bison and a rough Madonna, both of which will make it out of the shop and into my home at some point.

In woodworking, I discovered a love of expressing myself through a 3 dimensional medium.  Carving is like poetry one can hold in one’s hand.  It really doesn’t do much except look pretty, but it can express the emotions we carry in our hearts for the world to see.

My shop is an organized mess, and it never really gets clean. There are always some tools out, and sawdust lingers everywhere, even after vacuuming. Mr. Weild would not be pleased with that. However, both he and Karl Nimphius would be smiling right now if they were reading this.  Their willingness to teach, and my excitement to learn, went into giving me the skills to make the things I love.
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