What were the best gifts you ever received?

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Blog entry by Brad posted 02-15-2014 03:05 PM 1057 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

No doubt, you have your own short list. Gifts that found their way into your eager little hands come Christmas, your birthday or at your bar mitzvah.

But not just any gifts. I’m talking about the ones that you remember vividly to this day. The rush of tearing the wrapping paper. The exquisite moment of recognition when ‘could it be?’ turns into ‘It is!’ A moment that froze in time when you opened the box to look upon your precious desire for that first lingering moment.

As a teen, I used to play a boardgame called Wooden Ships and Iron men.

It was set during the age of sail when English, French and Spanish grappled each other with shot and cutlass. So when I unwrapped the 1846 French Naval Cutlass laying under the Christmas tree one year, it felt like I was standing on the deck of a frog frigate.

As an adult, I got that chill up my spine when the slow tearing of wrapping paper revealed an Italian Aurora fountain pen. I had been coveting the finely-crafted writing instrument for a year solid. And it was the solitary item on my wish list. So, when I opened the wooden presentation box and caught the first glimpse of my future favorite writing tool, I swear that I saw a star twinkle shoot off its silver cap to the accompaniment of a distinct ping. As if someone had plucked a crystal wine glass with their index finger.

I remember thinking that no physical object would ever make me feel that way again. A few birthdays later, I was proven wrong when my unwrapping revealed the Lie-Nielsen Toolworks lettering upon a pristine box. Could this be the No. 4 I had asked for?

Moments later, the box lid opened—yes!—and a smile crossed my face to utter a single word: bronze.

Pulling it out, I let its factory cocoon float to the floor. Then I set it down to marvel at her.

She made a fantastic first impression. First, she’s hefty, but I like a bit of mass to help push through smoothing strokes across hardwood boards. Second, she’s “all dolled up”. Every detail to her fit and finish is finely crafted.

And it didn’t take long to get her ready for the prom. I spent a few minutes polishing the iron’s back and bevel and put it to wood.

Since that time, I’ve used her consistently. And I’ve been happy with the glassy surfaces she’s left behind.

Thin planing stop project.

Chisel mallet project.

One thing’s for sure, we’re mates for life. And long after I’ve departed this crazy world, I imagine she’ll be working wood in the hands of my decedents. Until then, every time I use that brass beauty, I’ll be reminded of my parents. For their thoughtful gift brightened my Christmas, along with many woodworking days since. My No. 4 is the most beautiful piece of bronze and cherry I’ve ever owned.


-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

5 comments so far

View Lumberpunk's profile


334 posts in 2337 days

#1 posted 02-15-2014 05:11 PM

12 years old, motorbike… hands down. Veritas Low Angle Jack with all three blades 3 years ago. Running a close 2nd.

-- If someone tells you you have enough tools and don't need any more, stop talking to them, you don't need that kind of negativity in your life.

View ScaleShipWright's profile


253 posts in 1885 days

#2 posted 02-15-2014 06:15 PM

Brad, have you tried scary sharpening the cutlass?

Cool gifts!

-- God exists... But relax, He's not you!

View hoosier0311's profile


706 posts in 2025 days

#3 posted 02-15-2014 07:38 PM

I would have to say it was when the old man gave me my own keys to the shop in the barn. welders, mills, lathe many woodworking tools. The real gift was his his willingness to teach me to use such things,,,,,,,,,still a hands on kind of guy to this day.

-- atta boy Clarence!

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3151 days

#4 posted 02-15-2014 08:16 PM

Ok, owning a real sword is pretty damn cool. I don’t know anything about pens or the game.

The bronze #4 is an amazing tool, I got to play with for a while and I as blown away. Amazing how responsive the depth adjuster is. Absolutely no slop and almost too responsive, it’s easy to over adjust.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Brad's profile


1139 posts in 2740 days

#5 posted 02-17-2014 06:13 PM

ScaleShipWright, no I haven’t used the scary sharp method on the cutlass. But I’ll have to add that to my weekend to-do list :)

Hoosier-Actually, that’s a great gift. Your dad was showing confidence in your ability to be safe around that stuff. And you’re correct. The greatest gift he gave you was the knowledge to use those things.

LSmart, funny how the memory of that motorbike sticks with you all these years. I’ll bet you have stories to tell about it.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

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