Well this is my first blogging experience here at lumber jocks. I have lurked in your forums for a number of weeks, and have decided to take the plunge. As I wrote it, this blog became more of a tribute to my father than about me, but many of us can trace our woodworking roots back to our fathers.
Well where do I start? I am coming back to woodworking as a serious hobby after a short hiatus. I had a “Man Vs. Saw” experience a few years ago. I did keep all my fingers but was injured enough to have some nerve damage. As a result enjoying work with a table saw was a bit hard to do. I kept doing home projects but I was more of a DYI’er than a woodworker for those years. Then a sad experience brought me back to woodworking.
My father was my first “shop teacher” he was the son of Polish immigrants and had me very late in life (He was 60 when i was born… Yes 60.) He was trained as a cabinet maker but when World War Two broke out it interrupted that career and when he returned from the army he ended up a gunsmith at one of New England’s many fine firearm manufacturers. But woodworking became his thing to do on a evening or weekend.
My much older brother had no real interest in anything mechanical so to his delight his very young son became his shop buddy. He taught me how to use a smoothing plane, brace and bit, use a hand saw, and even joint a board by hand. From a very early age allowing me to use all his hand tools under his supervision, and even at 8 or 9 years old i’d sneak into his workshop and work on some of my own projects.
When his health started to fail in my late teens. I took over run of the shop, and began working alone bought some tools of my own, updated the antique of a table saw to a more modern one. Then one night, when I knew I was too tired to be working, I nearly cut my thumb off on it. Luckily I went straight into it, rather than across it. A trip to the ER, seeing a hand surgeon, a few months of healing, and I was fine physically. Every time I turned that saw on, after that night, I was gripped with a fear. Not the respect for the tool fear that one needs, but an irrational one that if anything made it unsafe to use. As a result it was probably only turned on 5 or 6 times in 2 years and very little real woodworking got done.
Sadly my father became very ill, at 89 his time was running out. My mother and I, along with some wonderful hospice nurses, took it upon ourselves to keep him at home and not put him in a nursing home. I started spending a lot of time in that old little used workshop. Then one night started sharpening all his chisels, then planes, then ruined a saw or two trying to sharpen it. When he entered his last weeks I stumbled upon a used 6inch jointer and 14inch bandsaw and crammed it down there. I rushed up to tell my father about the finds and he was thrilled, those where the 2 machines he always talked about getting. We talked shop for over an hour before he fell asleep. I did not know it at the time but it would be our last conversation. He suffered another stroke the next day and only lived another week.
Since his passing I have become a woodworker again. I am working on projects, trying to relearn the skills I have forgotten, as well as learn new ones; such as hand cutting dovetails. My fear of the table saw has turned into a very healthy respect and I want to build that jointer’s workbench my father and I talked about building many years ago.
-- I don't know where I'm going but I'm on my way!