Friday, 17 June 2011

For Better or For Worse...

These past few months, whenever a few minutes of break time is due, I have been merrily using it to search out any interesting books I can find on the topic of woodworking benches. I have also done more than one all-nighter, surfing the web for posts by other woodworkers regarding their trials and troubles creating their benches, their joys and  disappointments with their resulting benches and their hopes and dreams for their future benches.

From all this research, here are my top-ten unscientifically defined conclusions about woodworkers and their workshop benches…
1. It appears to me that more than half of you out there have each built more than 100 benches in your lifetimes; 99 of them were built in your head…plus the one you actually built in the basement.
2. The vast majority of woodworks spend three to five years thinking about building a workbench, two to three years assembling the materials to build their workbenches, and six months to a year staring at all that stuff piled in the middle of the basement floor, all the while convincing yourselves that you shouldn’t rush these things.
3. You know the woodworkers who changed their bench designs right after purchasing the building materials for their first designs from their listings on eBay; they are the ones with the descriptions that always start with; "Bench place your bench part here - New - Still in the box..." 
4. Once the build has started, the average workbench usually takes about 73.832 days, 892.37 dollars and 192 bottles of beer to complete.
5. Many of you learned a good lesson in design whilst trying to decide which end of the bench to add the detailed mounting of the bottle opener, overcoming the possible bad choice by adding these complicated mounts at both ends.
6. Although mainly kept a secret, many a proud workbench builder has been seen dragged complete strangers off the street and forcing them down their basement stairs so they can show someone their pride and joy.
7. Once completed, it usually takes anywhere from three to five years for the average woodworker to finally admit that he or she "might" have made a mistake in the design of their bench, however obvious that mistake may be, by-the-way.
8. Once completed, it usually takes anywhere from three to five days for the average woodworker to start dreaming of what he or she will be adding to their next bench-build.
9. Once completed, "Re-flattening the top" is a task most new bench owners look forward to...once.
And finally, the number one conclusion I have come to…(drum roll, please)…
10. Once completed, the average time it takes for your wife to discover your beautifully crafted workshop bench is the perfect place to put clothes for, or from, washday – SEVEN!

And speaking of wives…

I didn't have long before retirement and I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to it (please note the operative words in this sentence, being "didn't" and “was”).

Damn it, Jim!

My wife came to me last week and asked for some help with her resume.


My reaction was to ask why she wanted to deal with it so close to her retiring? This turned out to be a question I wished I had never asked.

We live in Toronto, Canada, which has a population of over a couple of million, 99% of them miserable sods who could care less about a single living soul other than themselves. Trust me, when I tell you that what you have heard or read about the people from Toronto being the epitome of “proper” behavior is pure poppycock. Most would skin their grandmother for her tattoos if they thought they were worth a buck, or would shave two seconds off of reaching the next stoplight. Needless to say, I have been patiently waiting these past ten years to move away to some small, rural community where I can be left alone to watch grass grow when I’m not working wood.

I have also been very vocal about this plan to my wife; so hearing even an inkling that there may be a problem with it caused me some major concern, to say the least. Sadly, it only got worse as the conversation went along.

Here's the rub. I’m older than my wife. Not by much, mind you, but enough to make a serious spread in ages at the time of retirement.  Way back when, it felt like a good idea to marry a younger woman. As with most good ideas, it has come to eventually bite me on the butt, and has left some serious teeth marks in the process.

A synopsis of the conversation went like this…

"I'm going to be calling it quits."

“You can, but I’m too young to retire.”

“Well I’m not.”

“Well then, retire. Who’s stopping you?”

“I don’t want to retire in Toronto.”

“Well I don’t want to retire which means we can’t leave Toronto.”
Editor's Note: It was around this point were the words that I never, ever dreamed I could even think of, let alone utter, especially to a woman and even more especially to my wife, just fell out of my mouth…
“But…but…but...I want to build boxes…”

And with that, she never said a word. She just turned on her heels and left my office. As I listened to her move down the hall laughing hysterically in a way that reminded me of crazed hyenas, I watched with my mind’s eye as my beloved little house on the prairie went up in flames.