One evening, years ago, I was walking down the street when a guy, leaning against a dimly lit telephone pole with his hat pulled low across his face whispered “psssst, hey buddy, want to try something really special?” I asked if he was speaking to me and he said “yes, You look down. This stuff will put a smile on your face.” He held up a small, brown object and waved it in front of my face. In the light of the overhead utility lamp I could see that what he was holding was a beautiful, glistening cathedral grain piece of wood. I tried to ignore him and keep walking but as I did I heard the words that would forever haunt my sleepless nights… “First board foot is free. Just try it. Promise you won’t be sorry.”
Well, I’m a woodworker. And as we all know, there is one word that weakens the knees of even the best of us. That word, of course, is “free.” I turned, grabbed the object from his hands and ran, ran as fast from that sordid place as my feet would take me. I ran for what seemed like hours, streams of sweat flowing down my forehead. Ran in a haze of guilt and shame until, not really knowing how I got there, there I was, standing in the middle of my workshop.
I sat down, laying the board gingerly on my workbench. Studying it, eyeing it, knowing that if I tore into that wicked thing, there may be no going back. No stopping me from a life of darkness (walnut’s a dark wood, get it?). Finally, as if in a trance, I calmly got up and collected the paraphenalia I would need to try this strange and beautiful substance.
Goggles, check… filter mask, check… sharp cutting tools, check. It all seemed to easy. And all the while a voice inside my head kept saying “stop, don’t do this! There’s so much more to woodworking!” I slowly lowered the goggles and mask over my face. Helplessly I leaned over, my hands nervously shaking as I flipped the switch on my table saw…
It’s been ten years now, in and out of local lumberyard/half-way houses. Ten long years since that fateful night. Yea, I’ve tried maple. I’ve even given oak and mahogany a try. But always that voice comes back to me, beckoning and sinister as ever as I ponder my next woodworking project. And always I falter, weak and hopelessly smitten.
DAMN YOU THORSEN SIDE TABLE CHALLEGE! DAMN YOU I SAY!
-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!