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Short Shavings #2: A tiny tool tote tale

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Blog entry by Div posted 07-15-2010 10:07 PM 3116 reads 3 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Rhykenology - The plane truth Part 2 of Short Shavings series Part 3: Finishing the finish. »

It was maybe 15 years ago that I started work for a small boatbuilding company in Cape Town. The boss was a German man with a handlebar moustache and a little fluffy dog that followed him everywhere. He loved his beer and he loved his cooking; there was always a pot of something on the go in the tiny workshop kitchen. He made the best pea soup I ever had, thick and green with bits of bacon. He was also a master shipwright of the old school. This man taught me most of what I know about woodwork and a lot of what I know about life.

Up until this time, a tool tote for me was just a simple box with a broom stick handle, something that you slapped together as quick as possible. With Herr Strempel it was different. He had the most beautiful tote I ever saw, all contrasting woods, hand cut dovetails, shaped and laminated handle, and it even had some carvings. What also impressed me was that he used it. It was a tool with a purpose. Sure, it had some dings and scratches, but I think this was part of the appeal and added to its beauty. He did not glorify this object and place it on a pedestal. It was beautiful AND functional.

With his blessings, I made a similar one for myself, working on it mostly during my lunch hours. It was the first dovetails I ever did. I think Herr Strempel regarded the project as a little training exercise; he spent much work time to teach me about cutting dovetails and other woodworking techniques.

It is now 15 years later, I still have my tote and I still use it every day. It has its own dings and scratches, showing the passing of time. It has traveled all over the world with me. It has also brought a lot of work my way. I remember many instances during my boat building days when I would walk down a dock, tote in hand, on my way to a boat. Complete strangers would call me over to offer me a job: “If that is what your toolbox looks like, you must surely know your job!”

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."



22 comments so far

View swirt's profile

swirt

1952 posts in 1716 days


#1 posted 07-15-2010 10:13 PM

Nice tote and a great story.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1859 days


#2 posted 07-15-2010 10:28 PM

that´s a good looking tote
and it´s not surpricing that it is an advetising comerciel
of the best , silent but effektiv

understandeble why it gives you work all the time :—)
it´s proud to advetise for you and carying your tools at the same time

Dennis

View BarbS's profile

BarbS

2434 posts in 2829 days


#3 posted 07-15-2010 10:41 PM

Very classy. Thanks for showing that, Div.

-- http://barbsid.blogspot.com/

View wchips's profile

wchips

314 posts in 1832 days


#4 posted 07-15-2010 11:33 PM

Nice tote looks very rustic i like it

-- wchips

View tyskkvinna's profile

tyskkvinna

1308 posts in 1730 days


#5 posted 07-16-2010 12:03 AM

that is beautiful! And so, so true. It does show that you know your job :)

-- Lis - Michigan - http://www.missmooseart.com - https://www.etsy.com/people/lisbokt

View OttoH's profile

OttoH

884 posts in 1754 days


#6 posted 07-16-2010 01:06 AM

Very Nice Div, Very Nice

-- I am responsible for how I respond to everything in my life - - Deadwood SD

View whitedog's profile

whitedog

650 posts in 2201 days


#7 posted 07-16-2010 01:35 AM

very cool … I like the handle and the way it slopes

-- Paul , Calfornia

View mafe's profile

mafe

9668 posts in 1833 days


#8 posted 07-16-2010 02:10 AM

It’s really beautiful.
And the story as well.
Deep respect, and hope that it will stay strong with you.

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View canadianchips's profile

canadianchips

1836 posts in 1741 days


#9 posted 07-16-2010 02:18 AM

That is true. First Impression. Perception. Sometimes we only have 1 kick at the can !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View TreeBones's profile

TreeBones

1824 posts in 2767 days


#10 posted 07-16-2010 05:07 AM

Great tote and a great story. We all should be so lucky to have a mentor and a tote box like this.

-- Ron, Twain Harte, Ca. Portable on site Sawmill Service http://westcoastlands.net/Sawmill.html http://westcoastlands.net/SawBucks2/phpBB3 http://www.portablesawmill.info

View GaryD's profile

GaryD

621 posts in 2113 days


#11 posted 07-16-2010 04:13 PM

Great Story Div…..Really nice tote, walking advertisement, what could be better

-- Gary, Little River,SC I've Learned that the Lord didn't do it all in one day and neither can I

View Div's profile

Div

1653 posts in 1684 days


#12 posted 07-16-2010 10:13 PM

Thanks dudes, glad you liked my little story!

Treebones: Ron, you might not have the mentor but you can still have the tote. MAKE one my friend!

Mafe: Mads, welcome back, you were missing for a while…

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Cher's profile

Cher

936 posts in 1837 days


#13 posted 07-17-2010 08:52 AM

Div, you were fortunate to have Herr Strempel teach you about life and woodworking, there is no better education than that. I see your were an excellent student, the tool tote is beautiful, good to work in style.

By the way did you leave home when you were 15 years of age?

Thanks for sharing Div.

-- When you know better you do better.

View Div's profile

Div

1653 posts in 1684 days


#14 posted 07-17-2010 08:57 PM

Cher, thanks. Ha, ha, how does your maths work….? I wish! I am 49 now…

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Cher's profile

Cher

936 posts in 1837 days


#15 posted 07-18-2010 09:54 AM

Div, I just took a wild guess, considering your assistants are still very young ….. 49 …. you’re still a baby … lol

-- When you know better you do better.

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