Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Thank You Mr. Rose...

As I have previously mentioned, I'm redoing my tool cabinet for the third time. Today I went to the hardwood yard and purchased what I think will be all the walnut I will need to complete it over the winter. This winter will be the first winter in quite a while that I will be able to make some sawdust. Currently my little shop has been located on the balcony of our apartment and consists mainly of said tool cabinet.

Living in Toronto, Canada, the winters are cold and snowy, although usually not as bad as Buffalo, a short drive away. Fifteen years ago we sold our house and I had to give up my shop in the basement. I didn't mind because we were moving onto our boat, which is a lifestyle I highly recommend. On the boat, I got to work outside in the boatyard all summer long beside a wrecked cube van that I stored my tools and materials in. Winters were spent sanding and varnishing the interior of the boat, but there was very little carpentry going on. When the price of fuel pushed traveling on the boat beyond our limits (this was back when a liter of fuel was $.82 CAN and a gallon in the States was $2.30) we sold it and moved into an apartment. Our move off the boat coincided with a friend's move off of his, but he moved into a house. The first order of business was to set up a shop in his garage. He supplied the tablesaw, bandsaw and jointer while I supplied the mortiser, planer, air compressor and drill press. We lived in power tool harmony for a few years but again, it was only in the summer months as his garage is unheated. As my eyesight deteriorated even more, power tools started to really scare me so I made the switch to hand tools. One of the last builds I did with the power tools was to build the cabinet. I put it on our balcony and worked away out there on this and that during the summers. Now we are moving to a larger place so I will be able to convert one of the spare bedrooms into a "boys room" with the tool cabinet front and center.

One of the first videos I looked at on http://woodtreks.com/ was a documentary of Hearne's Hardwoods entitled, "Rick Hearne - Crazy for Wood". I chuckled through the entire video simply because the difference between Mr. Hearne and those that I encounter at our local hardwood supplier is like night and day. While there are a few places in Toronto that dabble in hardwoods there is only one the truly specializes in it - Oliver Lumber. While Mr. Hearne tells us about a great slab of wood he has cut, Mr. Oliver tells us, "That's what I got, take it or leave it".

Because of the different finished thicknesses that I need, from 2" down to 1/4", I went in to get 1 piece 10/4 by 8" by 12'. What I came out with was 2 pieces 10/4 by 6" by 8' and 1 piece 10/4 by 5" by 8'. The total cost was $270.92, $239.75 for the wood and $31.17 for our governments. That works out to $9.59 a board foot plus 13% taxes for those that are counting. I didn't pay full price for the 5" wide piece
 as it was badly cracked at one end.

I had my trusty 1920 vintage Disston No.12 8PPI crosscut with me that I had just purchased from woodnut4 a few weeks prior so I cut it all up into 37" lengths. This resulted in a stack made up of 6 - 37" lengths and 3 - 26" lengths. Stack them one on top of the other and they stand 22" high. I didn't think of taking a picture of this to show you but I'm sure you are all aware of how large a stack these short lengths of wood present. In a wide open space it looks like a lot of wood. Now visualize that same stack packed behind the front seats of a Mini, because that is what we took it home in. It looked like we had a whole tree back there.

Now this is where the book, "The Village Carpenter", by Walter Rose, comes in. This is a book recommended by Kari on her blog, aptly name, "The Village Carpenter". Walter Rose was born somewhere around 1860, spent his lifetime working as a village carpenter in Buckinghamshire, England and around about 1937, wrote about those life experiences in his craft. An interesting read, but why do I mention it now? Well if you were standing in front of that roughly 22" high by 6" wide by 37" long pile of wood that you knew had to be milled to multiple thicknesses and you realized you had the choice of using either a rip handsaw and jointer hand plane or a tablesaw, power jointer and power planer, what would you do? Me? I turned to reflect on what Mr. Rose would do and remembered his words, "...no carpenter would wish to revert to the toil of past days, the work at the saw-pit and the preparation of such simple things as floor-boards by hand."

We headed for the garage and the power tools.

Peace,

Mitchell