I can’t remember the last time I was so happy for a Friday. Not for the reasons most people like Fridays, the work week being done. My job is not at all unpleasant. It is because of all that is going on. The world has turned their eyes towards South Africa, where Nelson Mandela’s country is host the human race in it’s favorite sport.
Tomorrow at 1:30 eastern time, the Team U.S.A will take on the incredibly talented squad from England. I will be watching, and likely, sharpening my hand plane blades while I do. I am sure that by tomorrow they will need it. For tonight they have been called into use. The jig which my tools and I made this week, makes planing much easier. Which is a good thing, because I was given a bunch of practice wood today.
It all started last night. I cracked open the book “Basic Box Making” by Doug Stowe. Though I said I wanted to start working on my matt board cutting table, I think I may put that on hold for a bit. The first box in the book looks like it is something I could do, given my limited tools and skills. The hardest part will be cutting the 45 degree cuts, or more aptly, deciding how I should approach the cuts. I have several options. I can use my miter box or Marey the Festool jigsaw. This got me thinking of all sorts of methods to accomplish the task.
I couldn’t sleep. So I got up and grabbed some hard maple and made two cuts with the miter saw. Now when I say miter saw, I mean a hand saw with a miter box. I don’t have one of those fancy pants saws yet. Obviously it took longer than it would have, had I a power tool, but when it was done, the cuts were fair. I am sure I could use a file to flatten them out a bit and make the joints fit better. I was satisfied enough to be able to go to sleep, knowing that it was possible.
So I woke up and was ready for world cup and box making. After work was done, I decided to run up to Hills Hardwood Supply Inc. I wanted to see if they had any that was already pretty close to the thickness I wanted, namely 1/2 inch. They have lots of great exotic hardwoods and I lusted after many of them, but they all are 4/4 or greater. Since I don’t have a scrub plane or a planer, it seems unwise to buy expensive woods and have to plane it down with my No. 5. Then I got lucky, very lucky indeed. I told the owner that I was new to woodworking and I had a book about building tiny boxes. When he heard this he took me to their shop, and gave me a bunch of scraps. There was white oak, pine, two pieces of mahogany, and several others, which I can’t remember. He said that it was all likely to be burned.
I was so happy. It is perfect practice wood. Each piece has bits that need to be dealt with, and with all the different types, I will get lots and lots of good hand planing practice. When I got home, I piled my pieces on the workbench and set up my planing jig. The first piece to be worked on, was the pine. I took one swipe with my hand plane and the wood swooshed off of the pine. This is the first time I have used my planes on such a user friendly wood. The difference between planing it, compared with the walnut, was apparent after just one pass. When I finished with the pine, I moved on to one of the pieces of white oak.
The white oak had a section that needed to be cut out. This presented an opportunity to use my Japanese handsaw. After I got into the wood a bit, it started to bind, so I grabbed the wedge from the jig and tapped it into the top. This made the sawing go much easier. I felt like quite the clever monkey. The third piece to be worked on was, well to be honest, I am not sure, but it is pretty wood. It didn’t really need any work with the planes, so I just ran the belt sander over it, with some 120 grit, and it was good to go.
I wonder what most woodworkers would think of spending 2 hours saving three relatively small pieces of wood. I know that if I were trying to make a living as a woodworker, it wouldn’t be an efficient use of time. I am not trying to make a living at it though, I am trying to learn a skill and have some fun. I find the cleaning up of these pieces to be really entertaining. So I am going to clean up all the pieces, then I will make a box. Or maybe I will change my mind and do something else. I really can’t be trusted. All I know is that I am getting a bunch of good practice, and with that practice comes dulled blades, which need to be sharpened, while one watches the World Cup.
It is going to be a wonderful weekend.