Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Snowshoeing with Hitler and Muhammad Atta

Yes, folks, Hell has Frozen Over… at least it is cooling rapidly and will be solid ice two paragraphs from now. Because I am about to provide three pieces of actual woodworking advice.

An insider on the Editing Staff of Popular Woodworking told me the following item was said recently, “Sure, we can let this Skiver guy freelance his crappy drivel as our back page feature, but I think we can all agree it will be a cold day in hell before he comes up with any useful woodworking advice.” Well, to quote the maxim at the bottom of Bazooka Joe comics, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

ITEM 1: Here is my advice for making glue clean up easier….disposable plastic table covers. I went to the restaurant supply store (GFS is our West Michigan version) to buy a huge roll of wax paper. Well, the closest thing they had was a $41 roll of butcher style freezer paper. I acted like a 17 year old making out with a sweater-clad cheerleader and slipped my hand under the wrapper to feel the paper, and you know what???? It just didn’t feel very waxy. As I stood there in the aisle contemplating whether or not glue covered lumber would adhere to the expensive freezer paper I happened to look over and see the plastic table cover. Eureka!!!!!!!!!! $11 for 100 feet, and it will be reusable. Cover the bench with it, go hog wild spreading glue, and once it dries just peel or wipe it off. Speaking of wiping off stuff…how do blind people know when they are done wiping? Ah crap, I’m digressing again.

ITEM 2: 50 Cent Chisels… Somehow I keep ending up with crummy chisels to compliment my extensive collection of Lie-Nielsen and Blue Spruce cutlery. Finally, I realized two things that could best be accomplished with worthless chisels:

(2a) Concrete clean up. In case you failed to cover your concrete floor with plastic table cover (see Item 1 above) a sharp chisel is ideal for cleaning up the dried glue blobs, but DON’T use a decent chisel for this task. Use an Uncle Bud (“Hey!!!!!!! Your dad says you’ve gone and taken up woodworkin’….I got a nice set of chisels for you!!!”) hand-me-down chisel like the pictured one bearing the “Popular Mechanics” brand.

(2b) The other legitimate use for 50 cent chisels is to experiment with sharpening techniques. Why try out that brand new slow speed grinder, Wolverine jig, or Japanese Water Stone on a tool you care about when you can experiment with a worthless piece of steel? When I first got my Veritas MK II Sharpening Machine (which, by the way, is FANTABULOUS) I tried out the gnarliest grit of paper and ground up a cheap chisel. Steel was being shed faster than refractory ceramic tiles on the Space Shuttle. (The aggressive paper is approximately a 3 grit; not 36…but 3… maybe -3... Picture river rock epoxied to poster board. We’re talking aggressive.)

ITEM 3: Building my workbench has reminded me of a universal truth that I would like to officially label S.T.O.P.S. (Skiver’s Theorem On Preparing Stock). It’s very simple… You can NEVER have too much wax on your Jointer tables. Take two identical rough sawn boards and a typical jointer that has already been used for 20 minutes. If the first board requires 20 pounds of force to move across the cutter, then rewaxing the tops will drop the required force to 3.8 pounds. Honestly, the other night as I felt my abdominal muscles tear and my internal organs breeched the gap, I paused from the struggle of jointing hard maple and rewaxed the jointer tables. (I even turned the jointer off while I did it). When I fired it back up, the task became so easy that I let my four year old neighbor do the next 150 lineal feet. Timmy is a tough little kid, but there’s no way he could have jointed all of that maple if I hadn’t waxed the tables.

There… just when you thought this blog had no redeeming social value we throw in some useful tidbits. I can just picture Attila the Hun, the Reverend Jim Jones, and Josef Stalin holding hands as they join in song, “The weather outside is frightful…but the fires are so delightful…and since we’ve no place to go….”


Ron said...

Is the area we're to add the socially redeeming value???

Jeff Skiver said...


If this blog entry saves just one life then we know it was all worthwhile. And the value of that is... dare I say it?????.... PRICELESS. I think we changed lives with this blog posting. I know I'm not the man I was before I wrote it, and it's not just because of the massive doses of Estrogen my Gender-Reassignment surgeon has me on.

Brother Skive said...

I have to say that I had a near religeous experience while reading this entry.

Not because you have shown me another use for rolled plastic (other than covering the rear of the station wagon to prevent blood from soaking into the nap; enabling one to be incriminated for years to come)

Mainly, I was excited to find out that we have an Uncle Bud with tools to pass down to us. I had no idea.

Speaking of blind people ( I doubt you have too many blind readers) McDonalds offers braile menus at the drive up window. I find that odd.

I'm playing defenseman on Lucy Ferr's hockey team. We play the Fiery Fiends at the Hell's Half Acre fieldhouse.

BTW, tell the editors I buy PW mag for the back page artical alone. Well, I don't buy it. I take one of the 150 copies mom passes out to all the girls at the rotary club.

Jeff Skiver said...

Hot Diggity Dog!!!!!!!!!

Mom finally got accepted by the Rotarians.

It will be so comforting now to know that she is hanging out with them instead of hanging out at the Casino on the reservation checking the coin return slots of all the pay phones and vending machines just hoping for the seed money to finance her dreams.

Mom, we love you, and we think your Rotary Club experience will be your true jackpot.

Desert Cynic said...


Desert Cynic said...

So nice to discover that there is another woodworker out there who has a sense of humor AND can write. You prompted me to create a blog.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Jeff Skiver said...


I am glad you were inspired, but unfortunately you have managed to do the same thing that EVERYONE always does to me. You mention that I can write. Everyone always says I can write.

NO ONE ever mentions my READING.

People, I am a well rounded individual. I can read about as well as I can write. Stop trying to put me in a box and typecast me as just a writer.

Anyway, I am glad you are inspired. As I have always said, "If there is one thing the desert needs to go along with the heat, sand, circling vultures, and's cynical writing." People in the glorious paradise of the desert need some biting wit to keep them from getting uppity, and you may be just the guy who does that.

Folks, we're changing lives with this blog....

tablesawed said...

Not to go round and round about the rotary thing but...

J'ever notice that the president of the rotary,Wilfrid J. Wilkinson, or as I like to call him, WilWil (or W-2), is much older looking in the picture with his wife Joan than the one without her?

You think it's fatigue? Maybe it's just him being asked for the umpteenth time, "Dubya Dubya, you must be quite the Bush supporter, eh?"

Or it could be the result of the late-night clamor heard in the convention hotels that take the form of "Yes, yes, tax me with that form, W-2!!!"