Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fun With Wood!

When I was six or seven years old, I met my neighbor, Tom. Tom was retired, seventy or eighty years old, and had converted his one car garage into a semi-pro woodworking workshop. It was amazing, even to this day. All of his equipment was old, but very well cared for and, when they were purchased, top of the line. Good, expensive equipment do not a workshop -- or woodworker -- make. It's what you do with that equipment that separates the amateurs from the craftsmen.

Tom had built his shop around the equipment. His main workbench was custom made (by him) to include his table saw, band sander, drum sander, and easy access to all of his carving tools. It was strewn with wood scraps, old designs, half finished projects, bottles of glue and solvents, and sawdust. To me it was an incomprehensible mess, but he knew exactly where everything was. What stood out to me as a seven year old, was a large table press whose long turning handle had a hand carved lion's head on one end. It was beautiful in its simplicity.

Tom carved a wicked cool "crusaders style" sword and shield for me. He carved an amazing bas relief carving of two doves and a heart for my parents anniversary. He quickly produced... so many things for each and every time I wandered into his backyard. He was incredibly generous, talented, and kind. If he had thought of it, or seen this video, he would have made an expanding table, but it would have been ornately carved on all visible surfaces.

It wasn't until over fifteen years later that I began to cut and carve my own projects with hand tools. I eventually got some beginner level equipment and began to fashion a workshop of my own. I started watching shows like Woodworks and New Yankee Workshop for ideas, tips, and tricks. I started going to stores like Rockler's and Woodcraft.

I also set my sights high for my first big equipment purchase: The SawStop Table Saw! This bad boy is about $500 dollars more than the best table saw out there, but it's SO worth it! Using electrical impulses, a little computer monitors the blade. If two teeth come into contact with something that conducts electricity, i.e. a finger, then the computer fires a charge which propels an aluminum brake into the blade, stopping it instantly. The remaining momentum of the blade jerks it down beneath the table.

Normally when you get a finger in the mix, not only does the blade cut through it, but it goes to town on your other fingers too! Finger reattachment surgery costs $15,000 and up! Compare that to the extra 500 bones shelled out at the beginning. Oh, and of course the brake, computer, and blade are toast after an accident, but to replace all three costs around $50 bucks. Not a bad charge to have a "mishap," rather than a amputation. Make sure you check out the "Hot Dog Test" video!

The first thing I think I will make with it is this freakin' sweet walking table. What a great idea!

I think Tom would have liked it too.

Making things out of things since 2001...


Byrd said...

My batcave would be complete with that expandable table!

Sarah said...

Where did you get those wonderful videos from?

Sarah said...

Why hasn't there been a blog since May 14th?