So in my previous post I walked us to the point of how it came to be that I wanted to build furniture. I mentioned that I thought I was handy so I figured I’d give some background on how that idea was planted in my head (and kind of confirmed…some days).
Anyway for a little background my day job is a biomedical research assistant. For those of you scratching your head going “what in the hell does that mean?” trust me there are days I say the same thing. In short I work in a lab and we are studying the effects of certain insults to the skin, lungs, and mucus membranes and how the body reacts to them at a molecular level. Then we try to come up with some type of aid, be it pharmacological or some natural item, to assist in the body’s repair. In choosing this career path I broke the mold for my family.
I grew up on a small hobby farm that my parents purchased when I was 8. The farm is 90 acres with 43 tillable and 15 wooded with a pond and nice creek (pronounced krick in my head). My family also owned the feed mill in our small town it was run by three generations of son-in-laws before my older brother was the first son to manage it before they had to close it back in 2002. Anyway as many of you who grew up in that type of life know we didn’t pay people to fix too much around the house, barns or the mill. So a lot of my first memories of hanging out at the mill were with Grandpa, Pa as we called him, and my Great-Grandpa, or Papaw, in the shop fixing stuff. They got the lucky jobs of fixing things in their semi-retired states, mostly I think because they were the ones who fixed it the last time it broke and were the only ones who knew what type of crazy engineering they had introduced the time before. My Papaw also had a wood shop in his garage where he built mostly cabinets and lots of wood toys and whirlygig type things. That shop that he had is my reference point when people ask what influenced me to pickup woodworking as a hobby. I remember him letting us kids go out there and bang on scraps and generally tear up his tools all the while he sat on his stool and laughed. I really miss that man. Looking back I feel really bad for messing up his good leather punches because we liked to make strings of wood come out the hole.
I worked in the mill in high school and after my first year of college, but I’ll tell you, working for and living with your Dad is not an easy thing for a guy who just tasted a year of freedom on campus. You would have thought that amount of fights and yelling that took place that summer that our relationship would have been pretty damaged, but luckily it’s not. I should mention that my Dad was severely injured in an accident at the mill when I was 12 so when I say I worked and lived with him it should read I worked at the mill for him and then at home for him too. Again looking back I see what total douche I was, and how thankful I am that he didn’t just shoot me. He wasn’t able to all the work at home, but he knew how to do it, but I was pretty sure in my 19 years of living had made me way smarter than him. However, I was almost always wrong and I am very happy he taught me the correct ways.
So now in the current time the old man and me don’t have too many secrets (I’ve seen him naked too many times in a hospital for that), but I was completely surprised when this past winter he says he has a collection of tools that belonged to his Grandfather. I knew there was an old lathe out in one of our barns that had belonged to him, but that was all I knew of. So when we were at their house for Christmas I ventured down to the dark corner of the basement and started to uncover a wealth of cool old hand tools. I had made a decision this past fall that lots of power tools were not in my near future for budgetary reasons and started looking to alternatives. Anyway the collection contained the old lathe, of course, with a set of nice turning tools, a Union #5, a Stanley 78, an 8” brace, a corner brace, a whole set of brace bits, a Millers Falls egg beater drill, a 2 speed breast drill, some trisquares and combination squares, some clamps, tap and die set, a bunch of other odds and ends, and the crown jewel was a Stanley #2. I am slowly working on restoring all the items to at least a user status. The #2 has been worked hard and has had some modifications to it to keep it together, but I’ve tuned it up and still works well for me. Sadly the set of saws were all rusted beyond repair and there weren’t any chisels except for a 1” socket corner chisel. I love bringing these tools back to life and my Dad is happy that they are being used. He said he had planned to do it years ago, but then he went and got hit by a train so he said is focus kinda shifted (he’s got a great humor about the whole thing).
Well that’s the history, again pretty vomitous, but I’ll end up this series next time with the current state of my shop and my woodworking edgumication. Then hopefully onto a series about getting that old lathe in working order again.
Check ya later,