I am having the time of my life. I am knee deep into building the Schwarz/Holtzapffel Workbench. Truthfully, I have better things to be doing, but Webkinz is having all kinds of Web server issues (like it never occurred to you guys that we kids would be getting a butt load of new Webkinz for Christmas and needing to set them up online. HELLO????) Anyway, I have a Webkinz that is in desperate need of lunch followed by a nap, but since I can’t log in to do that I figured, "Hey…why not spend my holiday/vacation day in the woodshop."
So, all of that 8/4 Hard Maple from the previous post, is getting milled into parts of my bench. The stretchers for the base are 1 ½ inches thick, and the legs are laminated from two 1 ½ inch thick boards to become 3 inches thick. Creating 1 ½ inch pieces out of 8/4 stock means that I am basically jointing/planing 25% off each board. I know somebody is going to tell me I should spend 40 hours at my bandsaw, resawing ½ inch off the thickness of each board, but you know what…my time and my bandsaw blades are worth more to me than the thrill of having 140 lineal feet of 8 inch wide x ½ inch thick hard maple planks. (Just shoot me for not being the Cheapest guy in the world.) Besides, the boards are kinda cupped, so if I want to use square stock (a recent discovery of mine), I can really only get 1 ½ inch thick boards out of it. (Actually, I can get 1 ¾ thick square stock out of it, so on some level I am guilty of wasting wood. Please don’t send me hate mail. And yes, I do cross cut to relative length, rip to relative width, and THEN go over and joint and plane to thickness. I know how to work with cupped wood. GEEZ!!!!!!!! Get off my back.) So…back to the story.
Two nights ago, when I finished milling all four legs I started cutting the stretchers, and as I looked over at the cyclone I saw chips whirling around in the clear tube that goes from the cyclone to the dust hopper. (That’s not good; it means the hopper is full.) So I went over, unhooked the hopper, and took it outside to do what I always do…I used it for mulch. As I am outside in the snow pouring sawdust around the trees in my front yard, I began to wonder if this was somewhat cannibalistic to use sawdust at the base of my trees. I got the mental picture of the conversation after I went back in side:
Red Twig Dogwood: Oh my God, is this Sugar Maple chips? I’ve got cousins up in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula…it’s a Michigan thing) who are Sugar Maples. Oh boy… this just reminds you how short life is.
River Birch: Yeah, Red, this is Hard Maple alright. Holy Geez, if that carbide cutter on his jointer did this to hard maple I hate to think how fast it would blow through my peely-barked butt.
Red Twig Dogwood: Ya know, Skiver is one sick and twisted *&^$&%$!!! What kind of animal brings freshly milled sawdust out and spreads it around the base of living trees. I pray to God they reserve the hottest part of Hell for sickos like him.
So there I was standing in the snow thinking of talking trees. I held the dust hopper in my hands, my head was cocked about 15 degrees, my eyes stared off into the starry sky, and the drool started to drip from the side of my mouth as I vegged out in the middle of my front yard.
Something about the staring at the starry sky made me realize it was Christmas Eve night, and I looked down at my watch and saw it was exactly midnight. (Folks, when there aren’t any kids around and you are someone who can get by on four hours sleep a night…the wee small hours of the morning are prime time for woodwork.) So, since it was exactly midnight, Santa should be on the roof. I looked up to the snow covered shingles, he wasn’t there. Then, it hit me…he was probably headed in for the landing and he looked down and saw me spreading wood carnage around the base of the trees, and he instantly pulled back the stick, put the balls to the wall, and made it a fly-by at full AB’s…all the while saying, "Trying to turn your trees into cannibals, Skiver? If that aint naughty, I don’t know what naughty is."
So, Gail and I did not get a visit from Santa this year. It didn’t matter to me, though. We had Gail’s family Christmas gathering earlier on Christmas Eve, and since we had to travel to her brother’s house near Grand Rapids for that party, it seemed like the perfect reason to pop in and make sure Gary and Marlene were holding true to their promise to have the Woodcraft of West Michigan open on Christmas Eve.* And even though Gail was with me, I decided to ignore the surprise factor, as I dropped hundreds of bucks on Festool stuff (for her). I figured I would pay cash for her tools, and that 7 stone/4 carat Journey diamond necklace (for me) would have to come from Santa.
Well, maybe next year I’ll be good enough to get MY necklace. Until then I’ll help Gail use all of HER tools. And when my necklace comes, I’ll let her borrow it. A lot of husbands might balk at having to buy their wives such expensive tools that she'll never even lay a finger on, but Gail and I have a wonderful relationship built on our commitment to common goals. Why it’s almost as sugary sweet as that naked little "Love Is…" cartoon couple.
*(A shameless plug bound to be worth another 10% off my next Woodcraft purchase...Power Tools, FESTOOL, LEIGH Jigs, SawStop, Steel City & Gift Cards excluded).