One day in the library, I found a book called “All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching Star Trek.” I didn’t actually read the whole book, but did come across a section that talked about the mission statement. You know, the whole “to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before” thing. The author made the point that when starting an endeavor, it is a good idea to be able to put into a few words just what you want to accomplish.
I wish I was smart enough to do that….
Nevertheless, I thought I might try to spell out just what I will do with this blog. First of all, I hope to both inform and entertain a bit, or at the very least try to be interesting enough that the reader is happy that they spent a few minutes of their time with me.
Now the truth is, my job tends to afford me a lot of down time that I can’t really spend doing anything like real woodworking, so I spend more time here on LJ’s than might even be healthy. I am hoping that I might, in some small way, contribute something back that others may find useful, while also trying to stave off the boredom. Since a job like mine can easily go from boredom to mayhem and back again, I can’t say that I will be posting on any schedule, but hopefully I will find something to say on a regular basis.
My woodworking background is probably typical for a lot of Lumberjocks’ members who do not do this for a living. I took the requisite woodworking class in high school in the 1970’s. In the 80’s my major woodworking project was a large stage monitor speaker for the band I was playing in at the time. I did the occasional shelf or rough table over the years, primarily for computer or ham radio use. And I also watched The New Yankee Workshop every week, even though I really had no idea what he was talking about a lot of the time.
It wasn’t until the 90’s when I bought a house that I started actually looking at the idea of doing real woodworking type projects, but time and lack of information sources made it difficult to really get a start. I did do a large built-in bookcase unit in 2000 for a new addition to my home. Functionally it is great, but knowing what I know now I do kind of cringe when I look at it. Considering it was built with a Skilsaw, a drill and a Dremel tool though, it isn’t all that bad I suppose.
Fast forward to about 2-1/2 years ago. I was at work, and I noticed that I was loosing vision in one of my eyes. The lower half of my vision in that eye was becoming what I know now is called the “silver curtain.” As soon as the local ophthalmologist saw me, he was on the phone to Little Rock and within a short time I was “on the table.” My vision was saved, but it did in some ways change my thinking about some things. Since my daughter was graduating that same month, my free time opened up, so I decided it was time to do some things differently.
Just before the eye surgery, we had new energy efficient windows installed in our house, with the plan being for me to do the trim work. Using an old, rickety table saw for rips, and an old Stanley Model 100 picture frame miter saw, I managed to get the job done. Even though it took way too long and was a lot more work than it should have been (I know that now anyway), I really liked the feeling of making something useful myself out of wood.
So, one shop building and some tools later, I am doing something I feel good about with my free time. Sure, there are a lot of frustrations (especially with finishing!) but when it is done, I love the feeling I have when I look at something I did and can say to myself “I did that.”
I started out making the usual assortment of shop furniture, such as a drill press stand, work table and the like, but except when I can use the construction of such things for skill building, they tend to be pretty rough.
I have posted a couple of my projects here on LJ’s, and have a few more I should post when I get around to getting the camera out. Besides what I have posted, I’ve done another small table for work, a few frames for my wife’s oil paintings (I find I really enjoy making picture frames), a behind-the-sofa bookcase/cabinet and a couple other smaller projects. Hardly an expert, but maybe not quite an absolute total newbie either.
I have to say that without the internet, I don’t know that I could have ever gotten started with woodworking. I have about a dozen books on woodworking, but the really useful information and techniques have come from online. I am a follower of The Wood Whisperer, Matt’s Basement Workshop, Woodworking for Mere Mortals and several other video podcasts here on LJ’s. I also re-watched nearly every episode of NYW that they had put on the internet, until they quit putting up new ones. The great thing is, I actually understand what he is talking about now!!
My final word will be an explanation of the name I have chosen for my blog. As I just mentioned, I have spent many many hours reading or watching information on woodworking. Even so, I often find that when I am working on a project I am “creating” a new way to do things that I don’t recall ever seeing or reading about, even though the method seems to be simple and obvious. Thus, I often feel like I am “Reinventing the Wheel.”
So as I go along on this blog, part of what I will do is report on “new” methods that I “discover” on how to do things. I am certain that somebody will often chime in to say “I have been doing it that way for years” and that is great. But I also hope that maybe someone who is where I was a couple years ago might read it so that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
My upcoming project will be a new coffee table for my living room. Made of solid walnut. I will start reporting on this in a few days hopefully. Stay tuned!