Monday, September 20, 2010

M-WTCA Inspectors???

So what could pull me out of my cubby hole where I sit listening to the Bee Gees wondering why my blog attracts hecklers? Well, Panther Saws, of course.

Last week a homemade Panther Saw showed up on Ebay. There were two signs that immediately told me it was not genuine. However, I gladly made the opening bid of 99 cents because I would love to have this guy as a side by side comparison with my genuine Panther saw.

However, a couple of days ago the seller canceled the auction and relisted it with a Buy It Now price of $349.99.

Here are the three pictures that accompany the auction.

Is it just me, or does this saw appear to only have a "panther" carved on one side of the handle? Wow, that is what we humans would refer to as a "RED FLAG." (In other far, far away galaxies they would call that "A disturbance in THE FORCE.")

Also, do you see that pointy area inside the opening of the handle (in the area where the ring finger knuckle would be)? That shape (pointing toward the front of the saw) is normally seen on other saw brands (like Disston Saws). Woodrough & McParlin, the company that patented the Panther Saw, is often seen with a rounded opening inside the handle. I believe I've seen "pointy" areas on some Woodrough & McParlin handles, but I have never seen a Panther Saw with an outwardly pointy area.

Here, let's look at the opening on my Panther Saw as a comparison.

So I realize that this much data would not carry any weight with OJ's jury, but to me, it more than implies that the saw on Ebay was an experimental carving by someone. Nevertheless, I wanted to get additional information. Also, I wanted to let this apparently genuine seller realize that she was most likely overstating the authenticity of this item. So I sent her the following question through Ebay's proper channel:


To: thegirls1220
Subject: jeff has sent a question about item #230528219160, ending on Sep-26-10 10:07:24 PDT - Unusual Old Carved Handle Lion's Head Saw (Panther?)
Sent Date: Sep-20-10 08:05:22 PDT

Dear thegirls1220,

It appears you have a fake/home-made Panther Saw. Can you confirm the "panther head" is only on one side? Also, on a real panther saw the area of the handle was enlarged at the front to allow enough room for the head to be carved. From the photos you provided it appears a Boy Scout carved a tiny little panther head into the existing wooden handle (and only on one side).

Do you have any Larger/Better Photos available?


Folks, I honestly thought I was being helpful. Then, a few hours later I receive this response:


Dear jeff,

You don't have to be rude. If you don't like the saw don't bid. This saw was inspected by a Director of the Midwest Tool Collectors Association, and he set the value.

- thegirls1220


I will admit her response triggered multiple WTF thoughts in my head. And after months of experiencing what TRUE internet rudeness is and just trying to avoid anonymous conflict, I made the decision that as the owner of a genuine Panther Saw I would defend the honor. (It's sort of like those websites where a genuine former Navy Seal goes through the effort of out'ing all of the Seal impostors who attempt to pick up chicks by saying they were Navy Seals during the Revolutionary War.)

So, here is the latest email I sent to the seller of the "Carved Disston Saw":


Dear thegirls1220,

What part of asking if you have other (different) photos is rude?

Also, I was trying to help you avoid the suffering in case you got a buyer who would immediately realize what you have is NOT a Woodrough and McParlin Panther saw.

As for your statement that you had it inspected by someone with the Midwestern Tool Collectors Association, I don't know of any M-WTCA guys who would look at a saw with a Disston handle with a "panther" carved on one side and declare it to be a genuine Woodrough and McParlin panther saw.

So, please, rather than incorrectly calling me rude, are you able to answer the questions I posed?

1) Is the panther carved on only one side?
2) Do you have additional (better...more detailed) photos available?




That's it. That's where we stand. I will let you know if we get a response to my questions. By the way, if you are inclined to jump over to Ebay and pay $350 for a home-made Panther Saw.... take a look at the Medallion, too.

Gee, is that a Disston Keystone I see??? Oh yeah, I'm sure "This saw was inspected by a Director of the Midwest Tool Collectors Association."

There is one other thought....perhaps in the early 1880's Disston paid Woodrough & McParlin for the rights to put a panther of their own on this very special saw. Holy Crap!!!!!!!!! Call Antiques Roadshow!!! I just realized that what we have here is...... An American Treasure.

(Now if we could just figure out why the patina on the blade doesn't line up with the "panther" head. HMMMM....)

Note to self (and my father)...when I Google'd images of "Woodrough and McParlin handle" on the WorldWideWeb and was greeted with my own pictures of my adorable dog (Peyton), I got the best belly laugh I have had in weeks.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Toast To Our Republic

On the way home from work today, I stopped into a local church.

There wasn't a prayer meeting; that church was my polling place to vote in the Primary Election.

I have done a decent job of keeping Skiving Off non-political. Hell, for the last year or so I have done a decent job of keeping Skiving Off non-existent. However, today I want to talk about politics.

When I was younger I was involved in politics. Sometimes I worked as a Poll Challenger, and other times I offered to drive the old, insane, left handed, or the disenfranchised to the polls.

Then, I figured out that no matter who was elected, my life didn't really change. So I stopped wasting my time worrying about politicians. I still vote. I just don't expect to ever see a modern day Jeff Smith (not the Frugal Gourmet) go to Washington in Capra-esque form and filibuster on behalf of my needs.

Which brings us to today.

Rather than just show up at the poll and ignorantly cast my ballot for candidates with the most virile sounding names, I pulled up a website that allowed me to make side by side comparisons of the candidates' answers to a list of standard questions.

The last question was, "Have you ever been arrested? If so, explain."

It seemed everyone was answering, "NO."

Then, I saw a guy running for Congress who said he was busted for DUI 15 years ago. He said it was the worst thing in his life. He said it changed him, and he is better because of it.

That is who I chose to represent me in Washington.

Fifteen years ago when I was a much younger fellow, I had some idealistic notions of what a politician should be. Back then I likely never would have considered voting for a guy who got busted for DUI when he was in his 20's.

So it is interesting to me that today I chose this guy specifically because of his arrest. I didn't give a hoot about his kids. (George Carlin taught me a long time ago that Politicians always want us to know their reproductive organs work.) I didn't care what church he goes to. NOPE. For me, I just hoped that having been busted for DUI 15 years ago, this guy might be less likely to be a high and mighty, holier-than-thou, pompous prick than all the other guys on the ballot. So I decided to give him a shot.

As I left the church, one little old lady was handing out cookies. I turned down the one she offered. Another lady had stickers that said, "I voted today." My first thought was to ask, "Are stickers the only thing you have, or is there a remote chance I am the lucky voter who has won a lap dance?" Nevertheless, I suppressed that urge, took my sticker, and walked to the car.

It was only then that I realized that I may have just played a role in helping to kill the next Mary Jo Kopechne.


Just when I was starting to think my vote doesn't matter...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wanna Change The World? There's Nothing To It

For a week and a half, I have been singing.

It's been a while since I felt like singing, but Gene pulled it out of me.

I don't want to say that "I'm Back" for fear of stirring up expectations in my former readers that I will fail to fulfill. However, I can admit that I have recently done some REAL woodworking.

I think this is my first blog entry of 2010. Last year, I did about 26. The year before that I did 99.

I got the new house in January of 2009, and although the movers carried thousands of pounds of equipment and lumber down to the 1800 square foot basement, that capacious space has remained much more a basement than a shop (or studio) throughout 2009.

During 2009, my only week-long class at Marc Adams School of Woodworking was Marquetry. So even though I learned an amazing craft during that week, that class didn't force me to run a 220V line or put together a dust collector pipe system at home.

Last Fall, when the 2010 MASW schedule was produced, one class stood out to me. BUILDING A CURVED FRONT WRITING DESK WITH CHRIS GOCHNOUR. Chris is one of the best. I have lauded him before, but every compliment is truth. It is staggering how much work one can accomplish in 5 days with Chris, given how well prepared he is, along with his willingness to work as many hours as his students desire. Best of all, Chris Gochnour is one of the nicest guys on the planet.

The week immediately after Easter was the 5 day class, and the students had received a cut list to guide the preparation of the surfaced material we were to bring to class. This cut list served as my incentive to assemble my jointer, tablesaw, chop saw, planer, and dust collector. Waiting until just days before the start of class, I began putting my shop together, and I successfully processed enough saw dust to have surfaced lumber for my class.

Then, for five days, while my buddy (the class brown-nose) Joe Brumley and I sat at the back of the class telling jokes, Chris Gochnour guided the group through leg shaping, bent wood lamination, carcass assembly, table top glue-ups, drawer fitment, dovetailing, and final shaping.

My drawers aren't done yet. I told a few too many jokes. I had a little too much fun talking to students in other classes. I informed Marc Adams which of his possessions I have dibs on should I somehow outlive him. I also rediscovered what woodworking means to me and why it was I first embraced this craft 6 years ago.

My drawers aren't done, but I know how to make them. Also, I have the tools to make them down in my shop. Because as Easter commemorates the resurrection of the Messiah, the week after Easter 2010 saw the resurrection of my Passion for the Messiah's early (Earthly) vocation, woodworking.

My life outside the shop is unchanged. The job is still there, and I am glad. It provides joy, challenge, fulfillment, and CASH. Most of my problems are still there. Nevertheless, my smile is a little more sincere since I rediscovered that my life has room for both a Corporate Profit & Loss Statement and a Spoke Shave.

Some might say that my week with Chris Gochnour wasn't very artistic since I was just copying his desk and not truly designing my own. My only response is that comebacks should be paced and orderly. I am ok with my choice to hang out with my friend Chris and simply remake his desk as my own.

I am not always as tolerant of re-makes, though. I remember a few years ago when I heard Tim Burton was remaking Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory....I bristled. That movie didn't need another version. And when I eventually saw the Burton version with Johnny Depp, I felt even more strongly that Gene Wilder's performance in 1971 was strong enough to last at least a millennium or two before anyone else needed to make it their own. Then again, what do I know, I was originally opposed to the Squeakquel to Alvin and the Chipmunks.

And so it was a couple of weeks ago, as my vacation wound down and I prepared to return to the office that I saw an AT&T commercial that started me singing.

Gene's voice came through the speakers and reminded me of our magical world that is so often obscured by life.

I still only have 168 hours a week. But along with work, yelling at the neighbor kids, feeding my Webkinz, and cutting the grass...I still have time to take responsibility for my own life. And I am making the choice to be who I have always been...the little 5 year old kid with the big blue eyes who would look adults squarely in the face and unblinkingly inform them that when he grew up, he was going to be the President of the United States.... or a Fire Fighter... or a Fighter Pilot... depending on what day of the week it was. I may have a strand or two of grey hair starting to pop up, but on the inside I am still 5 years old. I still have big blue eyes. And I choose to use those eyes to see the world....

The World of Pure Imagination.

I leave you (today) with a classic original.

Pure Imagination
by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley

Hold your breath
Make a wish
Count to three

Come with me
And you'll be
In a world of pure imagination
Take a look and you'll see
Into your imagination

We'll begin with a spin
Traveling in the world of my creation
What we'll see will defy explanation

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanna change the world?
There's nothing to it

There is no life I know
To compare with pure imagination
Living there you'll be free
If you truly wish to be

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanna change the world
There's nothing to it

There is no life I know
To compare with pure imagination
Living there you'll be free
If you truly wish to be