Presents For My Friends

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Project by Phil Brown posted 04-18-2007 10:55 PM 2851 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a 1998 photo of my friend Christy in Vancouver who I recently built the casket for. She’s still with us but failing. The carving she’s holding is a piece I did for her oldest son’s wedding which took place in Portland Oregon.

I mentioned in the Christy’s Casket project about my years of trucking and I’m amazed while going through my photo album at the amount of woodworking I managed to enjoy while still behind the wheel.

In 1997 one of the large soft drink manufacturers called our company to take on a contract run. I did 3 ninety mile round trips a day and they did all the loading and unloading. The receiving end was in a town 45 miles out in the country in a wooded farmland setting. I would sit out in the sun watching the deer in the fields, listen to the birds, and carve while the wind stirred the nearby pine trees. I chiseled and whittled while I waited. It was tempting to rig a dremel up to a power inverter in the Freightliner but I did the final details with the rotary cutter at home.

I can’t remember the source of the wood for this carving – I had access to lots of free lumber from shipping crates. I do remember picking maple leaves off the ground, arranging them on the blank and spray painting lightly over them to get an outline. The basic work was handcarved and the details done with the dremel, undercutting and graining the vines and veining the leaves. The wornout sawblade came from the tablesaw in our crating shop which I embellished with 2 loons in a woodland lake scene. Looking back I wished I had oiled the wood instead of using varnish but it turned out okay and Christy and her family were delighted with a unique gift instead of the usual but much needed items for newlyweds starting out.

I asked my boss for the time off to go west for the wedding, packed the carving in the car and headed off. It was fun to stop at truckstops across the country and pull up beside guys I knew from the road and share my project with them.

The table shown is a project I built for Christy and her husband Wayne while on holidays in Vancouver another year. At the time Wayne had lots of mechanics tools in his shop but not much in the way of woodworking equipment. I remember making a jig to guide the handsaw so I could make the legs uniform. It was used as their kitchen table for years, and a lot of friendship, fellowship and counselling happened at that table. Another time while there on holidays I saw my friend Wayne sit all night at that table counselling a couple with a desperate marriage, then go off to work in the morning somehow refreshed for being able to help out.

One New Years while on holidays out there Wayne fired up the oudoor hot tub which was a treat. He used to take a spot farthest away from the house and I soaked under the window. Now Christy was born in Affrica while her parents were missionaries there and when she pulled certain antics Wayne had a favorite saying which I learned that night in the hot tub. All of a sudden I got dowsed from the window above with a bucket of ice water and heard peals of laughter coming from inside the house. Wayne looks at me and says “You can take the woman out of Africa, but you can’t take Africa out of the woman.”

The last time I was out there I helped move them to a new house as the developers bought the one in the photos and bulldozed it for condos. Wayne bought a laser chopsaw and table saw to make renovations on the new house smoother. I cut an old octagonal pedastal dining table down to make a coffee table for them and rotating it through the tablesaw made it a breeze.

Christy will be going home to be with Jesus soon and I will surely miss her and Wayne together, their love and fellowship and encouragement as a couple.

In closing I’ll tell you how I met these wonderful folks. I left Ontario to heal up in the west, after a bitter life change. I wanted to go into the mountains and plant trees. I loaded a motorcycle in Quebec to help pay my gas, sold my Firebird for operating capital and headed to Vancouver. Arriving on a Saturday afternoon I delivered the motorbike, got paid and searched out a church my mother had told me about that was affiliated with where our family worshiped in the east.

There was Christy planting trees around the building. She was startled at a black van pulling in and a man getting out dressed in black with a biker t-shirt, and that hadn’t shaved in 4 days. I was trying to communicate that I was friendly while she was back peddling. I asked her like Mary asked Jesus at the gravesite, “Are you the landscaper around here?” We laugh about it in retrospect.

I attended church the next day and was introduced to Wayne, came to the Wednesday Bible study where they invited me to their home as they have done for so many before me and since me, and took me under their wing. I eventually moved back to Ontario to be close to my family but my heart is still very much in Vancouver. God bless my dear friends.

-- Phil Brown, Ontario

11 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4357 days

#1 posted 04-18-2007 11:08 PM

the story of lives is so empowering – tough when we are walking thru them sometimes – but in hindsight, wow…

You certainly were blessed with the time to whittle while on the road!! Not too many people get that opportunity – or use it to their advantage!

I’m looking forward to hearing more of your story.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4602 days

#2 posted 04-18-2007 11:22 PM

very touching story. You have a gift with written words. You are a great addition to this fellowship of friends at lumberjocks. I’m glad Christy & Wayne have a good friend like you. Keep us updated on her situation.

The carving is amazing, leaves always look great, especially when they are as well done as this. I assume that you also did the painting on the saw blade?

your Kansas buddy,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Diane's profile


546 posts in 4319 days

#3 posted 04-19-2007 12:07 AM

I’m glad they had your friendship too. Christy looks like a very nice person, I second that, keep us updated as to how she is doing. I love the work you did, those leaves are perfect. The painting on the saw looks good too just can’t see it really good in that picture.


View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4511 days

#4 posted 04-19-2007 01:35 AM

It’s a great project in all ways.

View PanamaJack's profile


4483 posts in 4274 days

#5 posted 04-19-2007 05:26 AM

Woodworking through your trucking days probably kept your sanity for you. Great story and evenb better woodworking. Thanks for sharing.

-- Carpe Lignum; Tornare Lignum (Seize the wood, to Turn the wood)

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4507 days

#6 posted 04-19-2007 05:31 AM

What a funny story and I’m sure quite a shock when the ice water hit you. Great looking frame and table.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View woodspar's profile


710 posts in 4296 days

#7 posted 04-19-2007 05:43 AM

Thanks for sharing your story. Some of our everyday objects hold such rich memories for us, tables, chairs… I especially appreciate your sharing the bit about spraying the leaves for the outlines. It is such a great detail.

-- John

View Phil Brown's profile

Phil Brown

219 posts in 4254 days

#8 posted 04-19-2007 07:09 AM

My wife had a friend over for the afternoon and supper. While they were visiting I was trying to write this story. The tears came. It was hard to stay composed.

-- Phil Brown, Ontario

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4373 days

#9 posted 04-19-2007 10:14 PM

Thanks, Phil. Great project, touching story. I’ve added Christie to my LJ Prayer list.

God bless,

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

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4443 days

#10 posted 04-20-2007 01:40 PM

I’ve read your story and it is heart wrenching. What a tribute you are able to pay to a friend like that. You and your friends are in my heart and prayers. jockmike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Phil Brown's profile

Phil Brown

219 posts in 4254 days

#11 posted 04-20-2007 04:16 PM

Thanks for your prayers folks. I’m going to call this weekend and see how she’s doing.

-- Phil Brown, Ontario

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