“Mr. Gorbachev, Pare Down This Wall”

It has been a long time since I have written anything on this here blog.  I don’t really know where to begin.  The time has been very rewarding to me in the last few months:  the birth of our daughter Odetta (what an amazing thing to watch a little person grow!) in May, 2nd knee surgery in July, recovery, volunteering in a return to work program, moving to town and moving workshops, and always learning, watching, thinking about woodworking and how I want to do it.  I have been listening to everything I can get a hold of on YouTube by Noam Chomsky.  He makes me believe that there is hope for the struggle to become autonomous from the established system.  Not completely maybe, but to have a degree of that.  To live outside the auspices of wagery at the mercy of the masters of mankind and in my case to make things by hand with methods that are centuries old in some cases.

The first picture here is of my old workshop in the country.  It was a great little place to work while my leg was healing and is still healing.  I am building a new work bench.  His name will be Milcho, named after my favorite Macedonian director the man who brought us Dust.  Here I am planing the saw marks off the boards that will make up the work bench slabs.  It is all out of construction grade lumber.  Save the nice wood for furniture.IMG_20150903_094850636_HDR IMG_20150923_192443956 IMG_20150923_192452077 IMG_20150923_192525699_HDR IMG_20150923_192531577_HDR

This is a Russian icon which I helped restore.  Brian Matthew Whirledge Iconography a fellow who paints Orthodox icons brought it to me to take on the woodworking side.  It is from the 19th century and the wood smelled of the vast Russian forests.  The paint is etched which I cannot show very well here.  Just take my word for it that it is a piece of astounding beauty.  Wish I could bottle that up.


IMG_20151011_125537818 IMG_20151011_125609970 IMG_20151011_125617085 IMG_20151105_205121129 IMG_20151105_205214881 IMG_20151105_205230878 IMG_20151109_193906728_HDR  I am excited to get going in my new space and get it set up to work efficiently for me.  When we moved to town I got a workshop space for now in the basement of where we live.  This second workbench is a little bit more portable than the last one that I built.  The bar was low considering that  a dead rhino is more portable than that bench was.  It is patterned after the Nicholson bench I guess and the bench that Paul Sellers swears by.  I think it is going to be great to work at.  My hope is to have the baby crib done by Christmas.  The one that I almost was able to finish before my surgery, but not quite.

Tutelage,  That is an interesting thing.  To thoroughly invest your mind’s energy in something that is challenging to master it.  In my case it is woodworking.  Learning the skills and the skills within skills to develop the confidence needed to keep learning more.  For this YouTube has been such a great resource.  Obviously I would have preferred to have one on one instruction in person, but it does not seem as though that is to be.  At least not right now anyways.  So I slog along on my own.

(The first part of this post was written a month ago.)  I have the work bench done and it is great!  Thank you Mr. Sellers for providing a free resource to building a great workbench.  Now, I spent all of 90 dollars on this thing.  I already had the vise and it is a nine inch vise, an old craftsman.  I strongly recommend older vises whether B/G, Woten, Record, Columbia, Craftsman, etc.  The reason is the quality of the steel parts, I mean they really grip strongly.  There might be some good newer models as well, but I don’t really know about them.  They can get prohibitively expensive unless you make your own wooden one and get good at it but you still have to buy a good threader and tap to make a quality one.  Here is the bench.

You do not have to spend a lot of money to have a good bench.  I am very pleased with this one.  I have to figure out a few things with it and maybe make some minor tweeks here and there and I think I am going to start using hold fasts but I have not decided yet.  In the pictures I am chiseling the mortises for the spindles on the crib.  I hope it is cool when I am done with it.  I think it’ll be alright.  I am going to try and get back to regular writing as the new year approaches.  I am having a great time right now learning the ropes of using primitive methods of woodworking.  When combined with a few power tools like a tablesaw and bandsaw, you can cobble together a good system that is effective and fast and does not need a lot of space.  It is very satisfying to put together a tool kit that you know is not quite the same as everyone else’s.  That is how it is in the world on underground woodworking.  There is a wonderful array of variety in methods and tools out there, some good joints being made.  Peace to all.

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