Pay-it-forward advice

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Forum topic by Tim posted 02-16-2010 05:58 PM 1059 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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43 posts in 3148 days

02-16-2010 05:58 PM

Short story: 3 yrs ago, I moved back to the town I grew up in. Last winter, I craigslist-ed some tools and began woodworking, learning as I went; a train table, a desk, some cutting boards so far. Over the summer, an old friend moved back into his childhood home 2 doors down. He is a seasoned woodworker; learned from his folks (but his house doesn’t have room for a workshop). He immediately was a huge help, loaning tools and advice, just as a good friend and woodworker will be prone to do. A couple weeks ago, he purchased a gently used Biesemeyer fence (his shop/tools are at his Uncle’s ~50 miles away) and “perma-loaned” me his gorgeous, 50” Vega fence to replace the garbage that came with my Sears contractor style TS. The thing is incredible and its micro-adjusting feature has already been an enormous help. We are both in our early 30’s with busy schedules. I have a young family and I’m guessing he’ll be starting one soon, too.

Question is: How/when do I repay his generosity? I’d like to do a project for him, but his skills are far beyond mine. They just got a puppy, so is a dog house a dumb idea? Should I wait to see if there’s a baby in the future to build something for? How have you folks tried to re-pay those who have helped you over the years? I am worried that if I wait too long to do something, I’ll seem ungrateful.

Thanks everyone!

4 replies so far

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

556 posts in 3024 days

#1 posted 02-16-2010 06:07 PM

It sounds like your intuition suggest doing something now. When wood is given it’s traditional to repay the gift with the first project made from the wood. I think the same should go for gifts of tools.

-- Glen

View patron's profile


13600 posts in 3308 days

#2 posted 02-16-2010 06:17 PM

opening the door to your shop for him ,
so he doesn’t have to drive 50 miles ,
might be a good start ,
then listen .
something in your range may slip out from him ,
maybe a tool , maybe a kitchen cutting board ,
or a box .
something he may not do for himself .

i fixed up my ex’s nephews bedroom ( 15 year old ) ,
he was so happy , he gave me the first project he made in high school shop ,
a hand tool box ,
clunky built , with nails sticking out and a smear finish .

i take it to work every day .
it’s funny to see the reaction
of people that are waiting
for a ’ professional ” woodworker .

i am very proud of it !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Padre's profile


930 posts in 3456 days

#3 posted 02-16-2010 07:11 PM

When I shattered both of my legs a friend came over and finished taking down the shutters I didn’t get to take down and when he noticed a few other things that needed to be done just went ahead and did them.

I was sitting in a wheelchair and we just started talking. He started talking about how he loved antique tools. He then went on his way.

A week later I called him to come over and I gave him a 100+ year old spoke shave that was my great-grandfather’s. He was speechless, and I felt so good. Better than money or a gift-certificate in my opinion.

-- Chip ----------- 6:8

View Gary's profile


9326 posts in 3400 days

#4 posted 02-16-2010 08:02 PM

I’ll tell you another good idea. All of us love to be mentors. I bet he really enjoyed helping you because his knowledge was useful to you. Buy the materials for a project for him/them but admit to him that you aren’t skilled enough to do the job. I bet he would jump at the chance to teach you. You’ll end up with some training, he will get the chance to share his knowledge, the two of you will develop a good relationship, and he will get his gift.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

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