Good oak and old planes

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Blog entry by SST posted 03-12-2008 01:24 AM 1018 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Ryan’s comment on my “Case for hand planes blog” got my mind to drifting again, when he talked of seeing the faces of those who have used these tools before us. I get this sense a lot and wonder how many others do as well.

For some reason, it reminded me of a chapter in Aldo Leopold’s “A sand County Almanac”, which was required reading for anyone in a Natural Resources major (me) way back in college. Even though I wouldn’t call myself a hard core environmentalist, I still believe this book should be required reading for anybody on this ship…I highly recommend it.

The chapter is called “Good oak’ and while it doesn’t refer to woodworking, it brings to mind similar feelings about faces of the past. Leopold says there is a spiritual danger in supposing the heat comes from a furnace. He then takes us on a journey back in time as he makes firewood, sawing through the annual rings of a good oak, reading from what he sees in the rings and describing the surrounding events of those times. It’s a wonderful read.

I don’t know, maybe it’s the aging process… maybe it’s simply stepping back from the race to take a leisurely Sunday drive through life…maybe they’re one and the same, but it’s really comforting not just to use my tools, but to feel the tools. Not to look at a plane as a way to end up with a flat board, but to savor each stroke as part of the PROCESS of flattening the board.

Well, I’ve rattled on long enough on pretty much the same subject as before, so (is repeating yourself a sign of getting old?) it’s time you all got back to your woodworking.- SST

Well, I’ve rattled on long enough on pretty much the same subject as before, so (is repeating yourself a sign of getting old?) it’s time you all got back to your woodworking. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

2 comments so far

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 4169 days

#1 posted 03-12-2008 01:28 AM

Funny signoff, SST!

I agree that enjoying the process is really important. It’s easy to get caught up in the results, especially when pressed for time.

-- Robb

View Mark's profile


316 posts in 4369 days

#2 posted 03-12-2008 02:23 PM

I totally agree with your assessment. For a number of years I relied on powered machines to do my woodworking. Within the past couple years I have been relying more and more on hand tools and as a result less and less on machines. During that time I have come to appreciate hand tools and the craftsmen who use them well. I’ve also been able to appreciate my progress but more importantly the wood that I am fashioning.

The sound of a well tuned hand plane is wonderful and the grain of the wood is spectacular.

This may part of the aging process or as you say a departure to a more relaxed and satisfying journey. Whatever it is I am thoroughly enjoying the trip as do my ears, lungs and digits.

-- Mark

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