Maybe wood can be a healer?

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Blog entry by mhein68 posted 03-08-2010 10:28 PM 1145 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Me and my dad have butted heads more times then I can count.. We.. uhmm.. He is just that way! Of course my wife say’s we are just alike that’s why we can’t get along sometimes.. I wont’ accept that reason….. well….(Please don’t tell her she’s right!).
As I posted in my newbie post my great grandfather Peter Heinen was a woodworker by trade in the small town of Evansville, IL. He lived a very full life living to over 100yrs old! I have been searching for tools or pieces associtated with his work.. With little results.. Tools have been auctioned off long ago.. Any pieces he made have probably have dissapeared over the years.. Except a few pieces that my dad have… I went over the weekend to measure a childs chair and table made by great grandpa.. My dad was a little hesitent to let me “fiddle around” with these… I went back home thinking “well that was a bust”....really dissapointing!! About 5 to 10 minutes of being home the phone rang.. It was my dad telling me to come back over.. No reason just “come over”!
So I made my way back to my parents house wondering what he could possibly want… When I walk in he was in the basement.. At his feet was a box of “wood scrap” (I thought!) .. He told me that he had a peice of great grandpas work dissasembled in the box… (A small drawer unit).. “OOOOkkkk?” I said… “Well” he said ” take it home, its yours” Wow!! it’s just an box of peices but to me its alot more!
1) I have a piece directly from my great grandpa to assemble and study and maybe reproduce
2) My dad believes in my woodworking interest enough to give me this treasure! I didnt even know he had this in the house!! After all these years!!
Well for the next half hour we talked about Peter his work methods (50% hand tool, 50% power tools) , how at 78 yrs lost his first finger, the old table saw he had and other assorted things… I left the house feeling better about me and the “ol Man”.. I guess that no matter sometimes what personal problems a father and son have.. Maybe wood can be a healer????

(This is my first attempt at a blog. Any comments or suggestion would be great!) Thanks!

-- Mike, Southern IL

7 comments so far

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3330 days

#1 posted 03-08-2010 10:58 PM

Make something for you father as good as your skills allow. He will be grateful for the gesture and I’m sure he will reciprocate in some way. It doesn’t have to be an heirloom piece. The main thing is that you will be using your own time to make it for him. Positive initiatives often have positive effects.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3104 days

#2 posted 03-08-2010 11:02 PM

Great first blog Mike. Lots of heart and soul in this one. I think your story holds pretty true for many fathers and sons of the baby boom era. We don’t really have trades anymore, we have careers. And I think that path has created a lot of alienation. Weekend shifts, overtime, etc. By the time one comes home, they are so exhausted, the last thing they want to deal is with the kids, the house, the spouse, etc. Fathers haven’t really taught the sons in quite some time and that education on how to teach gets lost over time. When you were inquiring about your great grandfather’s legacy, your dad probably reacted the way that he did because he was trying to hold onto what little family connection he had with his grandfather. But it sounds like he gave it some thought and realized he needed to pass some of that on to his son. No matter how awkward or clumsy the offer came out, hold on to that effort in your mind and know that your dad was reaching out to you. He gave you a very cool heirloom and to be able to touch and rebuild from the generations before is a wonderful gesture.

Thanks for posting such a touching story,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View ryno101's profile


388 posts in 3660 days

#3 posted 03-08-2010 11:17 PM


I appreciate you putting this up… Because of woodworking, my father and I have, for the first time in my 37 years on this earth, something in common beyond simple genes.

We’re very different… he’s a conservative, blue collar hill-town “hick”, I’m a suburban guy in the high-tech sector with extensive tattoos (my formative years you would have classified me as a “punk”). I spent the first 15 years of my life trying to get my father to understand that I was who I was, and that I would never fit into the image of who he wanted me to be, and the next 20 years reconciling with myself that his approval/understanding was not something I needed, despite my feelings to the contrary.

He and I talked literally once a year at Christmas, and when I got married in 2003, my wife started pushing both of us to reconnect. Two years ago I started woodworking (my father’s been a contractor/carpenter all his life, like his father before him) and for the first time we had something we could talk about. My most prized tool is the drill press that his father bought, and gave to him to be his “travel” press, which traveled with him for years to job-sites, and which he gave to me a couple of years ago and now gets plenty of use in my shop.

Woodworking has the power to bring together people of so many varied backgrounds and lives, and provides us all with a common “language” that we can use to bridge gaps, even those as large as the ones that can open up between a father and son.

Thank you for sharing your story, and welcome to LJ’s!

-- Ryno

View Ecocandle's profile


1013 posts in 3061 days

#4 posted 03-08-2010 11:50 PM

That was a wonderful story. I hope you will continue and tell us about what you discover as you dig into the treasure box. I want to hear more about your father and grandfather. I am not asking for an Encyclopedia mind you, just one or two volumes, I should think 150,000 words would suffice. You tell a great story. I like your writing style.

-- Brian Meeks,

View Bill Akins's profile

Bill Akins

425 posts in 3694 days

#5 posted 03-09-2010 12:18 AM

I can truly relate to this story. My father and I butt heads a lot. He was a civil engineer, I am a LAN engineer. He was an athelete, I am not. He was always a good carpenter/handyman and I wasn’t. But since I started dabbling in woodworking, we both fell in love with bowl turning. He gets me all the logs I can handle and I am always showing him something new from the internet. My mother died a year ago from pancriatic cancer and it was very hard on both of us. No matter what tension we have between us, talking about turning techniques and showing off our bowls always brings us closer. Mom loved that.

-- Bill from Lithia Springs, GA I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3013 days

#6 posted 03-09-2010 08:14 PM

I’m trying to hold the choking back while reading the above, my father passed on when I was 14 and I never really got to know him like my older bros and sis (11 of us).

Mike, a suggestion: give your dad a hug next time you see him and try to do this often. If you don’t do this on a regular basis it will be hard to start but the rewards are great!

Welcome to LJ.


-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4120 days

#7 posted 03-09-2010 10:45 PM

My Dad and I have always gotten along, so there isn’t any great gap to bridge, but when we get together (we now live a couple thousand miles apart) we sometimes need a context in which to have a conversation. One of my favorites is building something, either in his shop or mine.

Congratulations on taking those first steps across the divide, and may you find additional common ground as you honor your great grandfather’s work.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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