”After all, what are we? Merchants. Miners. Tinkers. Toymakers. Hardly the stuff of legend.” – Balin, the Dwarf from The Hobbit, An Unxexpected Journey
I am a huge fan of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings stories, both the books and the movies.
The above line applies to my own woodworking journey. Until recently, I’ve been pretty much in the ‘tinker’ category, mainly putzing around in the shop building small projects, shop furniture and fixtures, birdhouses…you know, the typical knock-around stuff. Back in the 90’s I did go through a phase of building clocks, napkin holders, and wood shelves, all of which involved adornment with elaborate pyrography pictures. Sadly I don’t have any photographs to post here, but I did sell a lot of them at craft fairs and consignment shops as well as making a number of them for family gifts. I also recall making a few custom hinged-front shadow boxes on commission. Other projects included a large wood cross that went at the front of a local church.
Also, over the years, my wife and I have owned and operated a couple of small businesses: a flower shop and a restaurant. My wife was the creative genius behind both of those ventures. My role was the ‘builder/fixer of things’. For both of these endeavors, I built all of the display cabinets and customer counters. A lot of this was melamine particle board and hardwood trim. Pocket-hole joinery was my mantra.
But still, I did mostly tinkering….
That all changed when the grand kids came on the scene.
Now I have gravitated to the ‘toymaker’ category. At the same time, I have transitioned to Neanderthalism.
Here are a couple of projects for the past year or two….
The first is a Fire Station Bunkbed I built for them as a gift for Christmas 2012.
My daughter presented me with the plans. As I recall, they came from an outfit like Pottery Barn. The upper deck railings were quite fun, as they are all dowel-joined. I still haven’t forgotten the hours spent with a dowelling jig and electric drill. This project was done before I embraced hand tools, so everything was built with sacrificial electrons. The most time consuming part of the whole project was the finishing. All those bricks are hand-painted!
The grandkids love this thing, and my daughter tells me that every one of her friends who has seen it have asked if I could build one for them, too!
I haven’t taken any of them up on it, yet.
Christmas 2013 saw some smaller projects for the grand kiddos.
A doll house for the grandaughter. This was from plans from Amazon. It’s really a cool design because all the rooms are easily accessable, and the whole thing can be taken apart for storage by removing a few screws.
This cherry and poplar Curtiss Jenny aeroplane is my first ever all-Neander project, though I must confess that the wings and tail pieces are pre-milled 1/4 ” stock. I haven’t yet learned to re-saw.
Incidentally, I had the most fun painting the pilot ! The TR-3 is my Grandson’s Initials and age…
I would be remiss if I failed to show what my wife has been up to. She is the lathe turner of the family. Here are a few of her aspen wood vases that I found around the house.
My only involvement in these projects is in cutting the logs and mounting the pieces on the lathe for her. She does all the shaping and finishing. I’ve also taught her how to keep her tools sharpened.
I do have plans formulated already for Christmas 2014. I’ll be sure to post a blog series on these upcoming projects.
I doubt that either my wife or I will ever fulfill the ‘legend’ part in the woodworking community, but we sure as heck are enjoying the journey!
Thanks for looking….