It is cold in Iowa today. It was cold yesterday too. It will be cold tomorrow. Despite this I realized that I hadn’t been to Home Depot, Menards, or Acme Tool in several days. I was beginning to get that itch. I needed a fix. So I bundled up and hopped in the car and off I went.
I had a vague desire to buy some rare earth magnets. Do I have a project that requires magnets? No, of course not, I just really wanted them. The reason that the advertising industry is so successful is that there are people like me. I recently read an article or saw an ad about rare earth magnets. I don’t remember which it was. I just know that the seed was planted in my mind that they are really cool.
I have no idea what sort of woodworker I will be. Will I faithfully reproduce a 1755 George Haupt commode? Perhaps a Federal chest of drawer will strike my fancy? Or a Greene and Greene inspired end table? Right now, I couldn’t say where this journey will take me. I do know that I like to learn how to do new things. So it is quite likely that I will pick many of my early projects, based upon the skills they require to complete, rather than what I would like to have when I am done. I am learning how to use hand tools now, so for the foreseeable future there will be lots of gratuitous chisel work.
This brings me to the point of today’s rambling. The joy of woodworking extends well beyond the physical construction. I take pleasure in reading about woodworking, or watching The Woodsmith Shop on Iowa Public television, or just thinking about projects that might be in my future. Of course one of the best rushes, as far as I can tell, is looking at, learning about, and buying new tools and woodworking accessories.
I knew a woman once, a professional Jazz singer. She did very well financially. She tried to explain to me why she had over 1000 pairs of shoes, she tried to justify it by explaining that many of the pairs were less than $350.00, she described the feeling she had just owning them. I did the math. I couldn’t conceive of a world where I would want to spend $350,000 dollars on anything that didn’t have a walk out balcony and a view. It was what she loved and she had the money.
As I left Acme tools, having drooled over a random orbital sander and vacuum from Festool ($800 ish), the $3000 Saw Stop table saw, and tens of thousands of dollars of Freud and Amana router bits, I thought about the woman with the shoes. I think I finally understand her love of shoes.
Magnets in my pocket, carefully placed on the opposite side from my wallet, I headed home. When I got home I looked around and realized that in my world, one of tech, most things I own hate magnets. I spend most of my life at my computer, or more accurately surrounded by my computers. It was clear that the only place that it would be safe to take them out and play with them, was in the basement, among my tools. I love tech, but I also love it that the magnets won’t erase the hard drive on my 9” Jet vice. Sitting at my workbench I took out the magnets. I bought both ¾” magnets and the little holder thingies (I like to use technical terms whenever possible, in this case it wasn’t possible, as I would have had to get up and go all the way downstairs to find out what they are called. Perhaps not possible is too strong, let’s say that it was inconvenient, and I couldn’t be bothered. My daily digression)
They are fun. I like to learn something about woodworking every day. The other day I learned that if one has rare earth magnets and one puts them in the little holder thingies, it increases their strength by 4x. Today I learned that if one is playing with their new rare earth magnets and puts one into its holder thingy, it is no small feat to get them back out again. I used my vice and a poking device. I put the magnets back in their little case and the thingy back in its case, and put them in a drawer. I felt satiated. I had made an impulse purchase, which was loosely related to woodworking, and I had gotten out of the house. The only problem I can see with today, and this blog post, is that it hasn’t lent itself well to photos. So I have included several gratuitous cat photos. His name is Harley. He is NOT my cat. He is however, a master craftsman, specializing in reproducing the works of Karl Friedrich Schinkel (Ok, that last part isn’t true. Harley is a cat, he doesn’t have opposable thumbs)
-- Brian Meeks, http://extremelyaverage.com