Sometimes I am just like a child. I guess that age has nothing to do with maturity, does it? Here I was yesterday, doing what I was supposed to be doing (drawing) and my partner called that he got off of work early. By early, I mean it was about 2pm. He asked if I wanted to head to Bernie’s and re-saw that wood we got on Friday (I guess he is a child, too!) and it took me about half a second to answer YES!
I have been thinking about all those beautiful wood pieces since we got back and wondering when we would be able to get it re-sawn and to the point where I can bring it here and use it. In Digby where Bernie lives, they are having their annual “Wharf Rat Motorcycle Rally” this weekend starting Wednesday which will bring over 15,000 people to the small town of 4,000. Although I enjoyed it when I lived there on main street and could observe most of the activities from my front window, I really had no desire to go near that town at all this time. There are two roads to get into Digby and both of them are one lane each way. For the first few years, I was able to take the secondary road in if need be, but I am sure that people have caught on now and it will be tedious at best to get there. Staying as far away from it as I possibly could was a better plan.
So I called Bernie at the lake and asked if he minded if we spent a couple of hours in the shop and he said of course we could. He chose not to come though, as it was one of the warmest days that we have had so far this summer and wanted to stay and go for a swim.
We arrived at the shop around 3:30 and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was cooler inside the shop than outside. We immediately went through our inventory and decided which pieces we would work on. There were so many beautiful ones to choose from! We had some Padauk, Grey Elm, a large, thick chunk of Basswood which I wanted to use for some segmentation, some Purple Heart, Sapele, Incensio and I also brought back a piece of the Pau Amarillo so I could run it through the planer. There were also a few pieces of Bird’s Eye Maple and Walnut and Brown Maple that we were running ‘low’ on. So we had our work cut out for us.
Most of the boards were about 3’ long and anywhere from 8-12” wide. We were able to split most of them so I got at least a half inch piece after planing and also some thin 1/8” stock for ornaments and such. We kind of set up a production line so we didn’t have to change the measurements very much and got to work. My partner worked on the table saw and the band saw and I was stationed at the planer.
I love planing wood. It is one of my favorite parts of woodworking. It fascinates me to see the beautiful different figures of the grains exposed. Since we bought most of our wood rough-sawn, putting each species of wood through the planer was like unwrapping a package and seeing a beautiful gift unveiled. I know it sounds dorky, but it was so much fun!
I plane wood like I router – taking very small passes. I find that especially with the exotic wood that I use, it is far better to take small passes than larger ones and there is little, if any tear out. Bernie just had his blades sharpened and the planer was purring like a kitten. Much of the wood was so smooth it was almost shiny, and the curls and figures of the grain looked so cool. My head was spinning thinking about the new projects that this wood would eventually become. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
This was the first time I worked with a couple of these woods. The Grey Elm had an extremely beautiful grain. It was fine and smooth and the color went from light sand to a bright gold in spots to a medium brown in the middle. It looks as if it will be great to scroll saw and should hold up pretty well to many of the details that I like to put into my designing. I have a particular project in mind that I want to try it with. It seemed fairly easy to cut and although I haven’t looked at where it is on the Janka scale, I think it will be a nice addition to my arsenal. I also liked the look of the Sapele, which is new to me. It has a caramel color almost like that of mahogany, but seemed a bit denser and the grain was quite wavy on the piece I have. I can’t wait to see it with a finish on it. I also haven’t worked with Padauk in many years – probably over ten. The piece I have it brilliant and fiery and although I know it is very hard, I think with the proper blade in the saw it shouldn’t be much of a problem and certainly strong.
I can’t wait to have my own full shop. One day I will. Some days I feel so limited having only the scroll saw as my major ‘tool’, but for now that is how it has to be and it is fun to dream of all the wonderful boxes and things I will be able to make when I have all the necessary equipment to do so. It gives me something to look forward to and to work for and it is a nice goal to dream about. ;)
We worked quite efficiently and finished up in a couple of hours. When I looked at the pile of beautiful wood in the back seat of my car, I realized just how efficient we were. By 6:30 we had the shop clean and swept and were headed out to the lake where Bernie and Ellen had a nice supper waiting for us. The weather was beautiful and the lake like glass. We ate outside and there were no bugs or annoying critters and the lake was quiet and peaceful and we talked about band saws and our trip to Halifax and had a nice relaxing visit.
Bernie takes great pleasure in people sharing in his shop. We had brought a band saw book which we just purchased at Lee Valley on Friday and were showing him some things that we could use to adjust his saw and make it perform a bit better for him. He was genuinely happy that we had such a good productive day there and he smiled quite a bit when we were talking about everything. I think in some ways, to him I am like the son he never had. (He has one daughter who has no interest whatsoever in woodworking) He is a great mentor and a wonderful teacher because he shows you how to do something and he moves on and lets you do it. He doesn’t hover over you telling you if you are right or wrong. He lets you make your own mistakes and learn from them and doesn’t chastise your for them. He only speaks up if you ask him or if there is a safety issue involved, as I believe he thinks that experience is the best teacher. I am very fortunate to have him and Ellen in my life.
So today I will be back to drawing. It looks as if it will be quite warm again, so I want to get my walk in early before it gets too warm.
The little apartment is full to the brim of treasures waiting to be made in the form of all of that beautiful wood. Already I know it will be a wonderful winter.
I feel so rich! :)
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"