Well it’s a red letter day here in Nebraska. My Sargent 410 showed up in the mail, and it’s rusty, finished is cracked, but it’s functional and will be ready for it’s bath soon. But this blog is about to be hijacked by an event of more personal significance, albeit a galootish event as well.
Long story short, I have done a little side work on some photos for Thomas Angle, who is working up a web page for Owyhee Design, the woodworking arm of his two businesses (The other being Thos. Angle Saddlery). Now I’m not good at naming figures for my work, and I proposed that Tom make me something and we could swap time dollars. I admired his jointer plane fence and his Aspen doors project with it’s wonderful woodburnt scene.
With a slight sense that I was pushing my luck a bit, I asked him to make me one, and if it wasn’t too much to ask, could he wood-burn a Buffalo bull at the top where the curve echoes the curved top of the casting on Bailey pattern planes. And I asked him (pushing it a bit harder) to sign it. He readily agreed, and I made a joke that if he sent me a load more pictures I might be able to charge him the exact amount necessary to get a Hock Krenov style blade and chipbreaker for a homemade wooden plane. I think he had recently posted his first effort at this endeavor, and I thought I might like to give it a shot.
I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t encroaching on his time for his business and his kitchen remodeling at home, and all the sundry other things that suck the hours out of a week. No rush, by spring maybe. Well I got home today and my Sargent had showed up and there was a package from Jordan Valley, OR. Tom had called last night to tell me to keep an eye on the mail, so I had expected a package around Saturday. But this was a bigger box than I had anticipated. I took out my pocket knife, cutting the tape off carefully so I could keep the return address legible, pulled the lid back and caught a glimpse of reddish wood. I knew that the fence was to be in maple so I was a bit mystified. There was a card, but at this point I was getting a lump in my throat, so I went back into the package, and this is what I found…
Thomas Angle, you old fox. Notice the smooth plane posting only shows one side. This is what was on the other side. I haven’t received so great and so wonderful a present since I was a five-year old. The significance is so much more than the wood and metal (it’s a Lie Nielson iron, heftier than a Hock), more than the time involved (he has about a gazillion hours of photo-editing on account at this point). This was handmade for me by a man I have come to respect immensely for his wisdom, common sense, experience, friendliness, and good will. I suspect that a few of you have the same impression.
I come from farm people and hung around with some grain elevator folks in my late teens. I did a summer harvest, got to beat out some burning cow manure with a wet burlap sack as part of the Lane Co., Kansas Volunteer Fire Department response to a house and range fire. I lived as a renter for 5 years on a cattle ranch (no chores involving the livestock). So I have a soft spot for, and some experience with ranchers and farmers (both lifestyles can stove you in, but they are different) and know a little about the Gypsies of the Plains – the custom cutters that follow the harvest of rice, oats, wheat and corn up from south to north each growing season. I married a cattle vet’s daughter.
But I’m a city boy and I don’t have touch with the field and the range much any more. I drive to work out of my way to watch the seasons advance, to note the crop rotation year by year in some gerrymandered fields in the midst of Omaha’s sprawl. So it has been a treat to meet my Cowboy friend on these pages, and shoot a few e-mails around. Now I’m forever indebted to him. And I couldn’t be more tickled about it. Thanks, Tom. There aren’t words enough…
As a parting shot, here I am – Two Gun Pete.
Better start learning to shoot (with shooting board). I promised Angle these would not become shelf dwellers.
Oh and that fence. Keep your eyes peeled. I think Tom will be showing the other magnificent gift on his own.
Boy, Howdy Bob! I’m one lucky man.
-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.