Inactively Working

Before I get too deep into today’s blog, I wanted to say that I am thrilled with everyone’s suggestions for the naming of my two new chisels.  The committee is going to give everyone another day to submit their names.

I have decided that I want to build a jig for resawing smaller pieces of wood.  Safety is important and building jigs is surprisingly fun.  The design process is something that I really enjoy.  For jigs I like to get everything situated in my brain, then imagine using the jig, and finally making adjustments to the design to accommodate the flaws I see when I am imaging using it.

I call this inactively working.  To the casual observer, it might appear that I am sitting in my chair, doing nothing.  But thinking is not nothing.  In the business world, this is a common problem.  Activity is associated with productivity, so people are often kept busy, so that management doesn’t feel like they are wasting money.  I haven’t been on one of my  TOC  (Theory of Constraints) rants in a while, and I feel one coming on.  I promise I will keep it short.

The best example I can thing of, which demonstrates how ridiculous  the the idea of ‘must be active to be productive’, is when people call in to sports radio shows complaining about how the coach of their favorite NFL team is not using some high priced star.  The conversation usually goes like this:

Radio Jock:  “Hello Pittsburgh, you on the air.”

PittFan:  “Hey, long time listener, first time caller.  Love the show.”

Radio Jock:  “What is your rant?”

PittFan:  “I want to say what a stupid idiot the coach is!  I mean, Johnson is making 12 million dollars a year and he is just sitting the bench, so some guy who is making the league minimum can play?  Are you kidding me.  That is such a waste of money.  I don’t care if he fumbled 3 times the last game.  The owner is paying him more than I will make in my life time, he MUST play him, or all of that money is just being flushed down the toilet.”

Radio Jock:  “Well said.”

This is where I usually find myself screaming at the car radio.  I feel better after I turn the station, because I have learned that the Radio Jock is just as stupid as the caller.  The goal, which the coach understands, is to win.  That is it.  The salaries, whether 450,000 or 12 million are sunk costs.  Once they step on the field, the coach knows that the chances, in this instance, are better with the rookie at the league minimum, than the prima donna at 12 million.  I just wish that one time, the radio host would ask, “Hey caller, if you could choose between winning next Sunday by playing the Rookie, or loosing by playing Mr. Fumbles, which would you choose?”  But I digress.

The point is, the football team would be more productive by having one of their players sitting on the bench doing nothing.  Today I was productive by doing nothing.  In fact, I took a walk, while continuing to do my inactive woodworking.

I laid the parts that I feel will make the jig on Jeff.  I looked at them.  I moved the piece of wood around.  I fixed the dimensions in my mind.  I got everything sorted and really studied how they would go together.  I thought about my requirements.  Requirement 1, be able to resaw from a piece of wood, likely not thicker than 4 inches, a piece which is 1/8 inch thick.  Requirement 2, my fingers must remain a long ways from the blade.  Requirement 3, the holding plates must not put too much pressure on the wood, lest it bind up the blade.  Requirement 4, the jig must look pretty and be grotesquely over engineered.

That last requirement is probably the most important in my mind, because requirement 5 is where all the fun comes from.  I bet you didn’t know that, especially if you are a practical person who doesn’t want to spend obscene amounts of time designing and building jigs.  I can tell you that I really love my small piece router table jig, and the fact that it is sanded and pleasant to hold in my hands, still brings me joy.

So I have been inactively working hard on my new jig.  I have it in my mind what it will look like and now I just need to run it through some test runs in my mind, to see if there are any flaws in my logic.  Tomorrow I hope to be able to show you a fantastically over engineered and somewhat pretty resaw jig.