The rest of the story

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Blog entry by dennis mitchell posted 01-16-2007 06:12 AM 965 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I started this story in yesterdays blog, but I more importain things needed told first. This is a story a man told me on the plane ride home. At this time I had few tools and no shop. I was digging out the basement of my house by hand. Carring two five gallon buckets of dirt up the stairs, then gravel and cement down to pour the floor. I wanted a shop pretty bad. Back on the plane. The fellow next to me was a judge in another area of the VICA competion.(see yesterdays blog) When I told him I was in the woodworking competion he told me about his years in India. When he first moved to India he found he needed a desk so he asked around and someone told him in India we just call someone to come build us our furniture. So he got a number and had a man come by. The furniture builder showed up with his tools rolled up in a cloth about 6 inches in diamiterand about a foot long. All he had was a small saw, a few chisels, hammer, really just the very basics. For the next week this fellows sat on the ground and built a nice medium size desk with drawers. Good craftsmanship, nice wood, oil finish, and a good price. Today I have to have a full size truck to pull my trailer full of tools to install cabinets that have already been built! Yes I also have a very nice shop with most every I want. I will always remember that Indian craftsman. I wonder what he could of done with my shop!

8 comments so far

View gizzard's profile


45 posts in 4151 days

#1 posted 01-16-2007 06:36 AM

he could have helped you carry some of those buckets! LOL

-- Dennis, Tennessee

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4159 days

#2 posted 01-16-2007 12:53 PM

oh my.
It’s embarassing—what we think we “need” and what we “have to” have….

What would he have done in your shop? Moved things aside and used his own tools.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4298 days

#3 posted 01-16-2007 03:17 PM

I wonder if that’s how the Taj Mahal was built ?

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4305 days

#4 posted 01-16-2007 08:47 PM

Nice story, good points. Thanks for sharing.

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4399 days

#5 posted 01-17-2007 03:29 AM

Well its not the size of the shop, or the Horse Power behind the tools. It’s the Man (or Woman) that is pulling the trigger or tapping the chisel that has the vision and skill to make the finished product.

Some things may be easier with the sliding table saw, but the tools in the hands of a “Lumberjock” is what makes the masterpieces. Be it recycled firewood, or A++++ Select lumber, the visionary will make the product that someone wants and loves.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4404 days

#6 posted 01-17-2007 04:32 PM

I’ve enjoyed reading your adventure, and have given it quite a bit of thought. Thanks for sharing your time at the competition and the man from India. I met a crew of construction workers in Mexico City that were building a church that I volunteered to help with one summer about 12 years ago. These skilled men really impressed me. I took a huge case of hand tools, typical of what a person would use in the States building a house. These guys did not have any electricity to work with, and had never seen a saw. I watched in amazement as they ripped boards to width with a machete. The were equally in awe when I pulled out my coping saw to help them cut a circle for a piece of rebar that was going through a wall. They had never seen such a saw. I left the coping saw, and quite a few of my other tools with them when I fly back to home. I learned a lot watching them work, and gained a great appreciation for their mastery of hand tools. Still, I prefer my table saw for ripping boards, and my bandsaw for cutting curves.

Another thing I ponder at times: what would happen if I was forced to flee my home, such as the Jews were in the movie “Fiddler on the Roof”? What would I take with me in my wheel barrow today. In the movie, the tailor took his new sewing machine. I couldn’t haul most of my tools, and so I have determined after thinking about this for 6-7 years now, that I would take a few hand tools, and the rest would have to travel in my mind only, figuring that wherever I found a new home, I could take my knowledge and start over getting the tools I needed again.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View DaveC's profile


39 posts in 4148 days

#7 posted 01-17-2007 09:15 PM

When I built my cabinets for my garage I made the frames with open mortise and tennon joints. I figured this was the perfect time hone my hand wood woodworking skills so I decided to make the joints by hand. The first few were, shall we say “less than perfect”. By the time I was finishing the last few joints—there were 8 cabinets—they were noticeably better and took less time to put together. I got to thinking about those old time woodworkers who did this for a living before power tools. If I did this day in and day out for years I could probably turn out some nice work fairly quickly with minimal tools. But doing this only as a hobby and having the opportunity to use modern tools I am certain I will never attain the skill level of the old time craftsmen. I would like to think I might come close though. : )


-- Dave.

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4175 days

#8 posted 01-18-2007 12:29 AM

Perhaps the more metal we have between our hands and the wood, the less skill we develop. Or is it just a different kind of skill? But, I think Mark’s point is the important one; the best tool in our workshop is the one between our ears, no matter how dull it may be.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

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