MyWorkshop - Contribution

Contribution

In woodworking, one of the first things you learn how to do is "true" wood. It's an essential step; the necessary preparation for assured work. Each face and edge must be made perpendicular to the other. (I was going to describe the process here. However, it's one of those things that's fairly easy to do - once you've learned - but hard to describe, so I'll spare you, and myself, the details.)

Trueness is more important than the numerical accuracy of measurement. If, for instance, you must make two sides of a cabinet, each of which is supposed to be 3/4" thick, 16" wide and 30" tall, it's much more important that the two sides be absolutely "true" (and identically mirror each other) than it is for both pieces to be absolutely 30" long. Or exactly 16" wide. Or 3/4" thick.

Curved

  • Woods Used: masur birch, ebony, pink ivory
  • Size: 6"x5"x4" (approx)
  • Storage: Offshoots of the Advice Box, they're supposed to hold 3x5 cards.
  • Price: sold

Of course, you can't dismiss measurement entirely. It's just that sometimes numbers are hard to rely on. Just how long, really, is the coast of Britain?

So much for rulers.

Next week I'll be giving a little presentation about my workshop at a meeting of the Central Jersey Woodworkers Association. I'm a member there - very pleasant people, very enjoyable events. Originally, the presentation was to be about planes, but, honestly, that subject could use a rest. So I'll be "Shop of the Month" and use that as a way of talking about...other things. But what?

What kind of contribution can I make? What do I know about woodworking that's not just rough approximation? Something true.

Supposedly, Abraham Lincoln was once asked how he would go about chopping down a tree if he had six hours in which to accomplish the task. He answered that he would spend the first four hours sharpening his axe.

Why four? More than half the allotted time? It doesn't take four hours to sharpen an axe. He knew that. Maybe sharpening the axe is a metaphor for preparation, examining the tree to determine its species, its age, deciding whether it should be cut down at all, and, if so, determining where the cuts should go, which axe to use, which direction the tree should fall, how to cope with an unexpected gust of wind, wild flowers in danger of being crushed. The terrified chipmunk frozen in doom's plummeting arc.

Straight

  • Woods Used: masur birch, ebony, pink ivory
  • Size: 6"x5"x4" (approx)
  • Storage: Offshoots of the Advice Box, they're supposed to hold 3x5 cards.
  • Price: $195

And how would the tree, once felled, be removed? Sawn into planks? Stored?

Yes, that would take four hours, easy, and then, all contingencies accounted for, plan perfected, the absolute, doubtless swing...


Wish me luck.