Today is the last day at The Woodworking Shows show here in Columbus, OH. Most days of my time here we have had snow, but not too much at all, just light flurries. It’s a little strange watching the American meteorology presenters on the news because of their quite dramatic presentations followed by anchor people standing in bitter winds to create certain unordinary circumstances to present what is actually quite normal for here at this time of year. I say this because sometimes things are presented in such a way that what we see we have to then discern what in actuality is truly the case, otherwise we would all stay home and not go to see friends, work or take care of the necessities of life. Fear and doubt can soon dominate our lives and we end up not making the workbench, trying out the plane or saw and certainly not making a dovetailed joint or mortise and tenon by hand. Don’t let the snow flurries of life keep you locked up in doubts and fears, just be aware that weather changes take place and be prepared for them.
Yesterday we covered a lot of ground in my demonstrations. With so many people watching and listening I started to see just how through the years we have lost so much ground in the traditions as we pursue faster methods of production using machines only. Robbed of our inheritance common dovetailing has become rare by hand yet no modern fastening method gives the same self-assured feeling you get when you see dovetails on the corner of a drawer or box you just made. Yesterday I hinged the door to the new tool box and so I have the smaller version to store my planes in as I travel to the last three shows. I have the till dovetailed and grooved so two more joints and it will be done.
I have ripped my frame stock and raised my panels using a saw that was made by Henry Disston in 1848 and a Stanley #4 plane with not retrofitted thick irons. I used a Veritas small plow plane for the grooves and cut my tenons with a1960s tenon saw. The dovetails came from my 60’s Spear and Jackson tenon saw and the Narex chisels I got from Veritas. These chisels are just excellent and really good value for money without compromised quality. Edge retention is great and so too the toughness. I also used the Veritas router plane for surfacing the tenons to fit the mortises. All in all this has been a fun project and by popular request will be included in our upcoming online broadcast under Making a Joiner’s Traveling Tool Chest. In that series we will be making two types at the same time, so watch out for that. Above are the two two side by side.
Tomorrow I prepare for travels to Texas. I’m flying in to Dallas/Fort Worth or DFW as it is affectionately known. This will be a big time for me as I have so many friends after living there for 20 years. While I am there I will be buying my shoes from SAS (San Antonio Shoe) Company. These are the only shoes that last me about five years wearing the same pair every day. A lot of people ask me why I like Texas so much.Well, bluebonnets grow there on the Willow City Loop where we once lived – thirteen miles of blue glory as far as the eye can see. I like the wildness of the Texas Hill Country, watching long horn cattle on Dolph Briscoe’s land
Texas! It’s also the place I developed my favourite Texas rocking chair above.and thinking of my first visit to Alamo Village out in Bracketville (the middle of nowhere) where I met a wonderful man named Happy Shahan 25 years ago. Happy built the Alamo village there so that the film The Alamo could be filmed. I love seeing mesquite trees and smelling the Mountain Laurel in springtime over on the Frio River in Concan. There are few experiences like floating the Frio on a truck tube with Jonathon when he was 7 years old on a hot summer afternoon and it’s also where two of my children were born there too.
So, in closing, I go from snow flurries in Ohio to the fond warmth of the warmer climes of Texas. Until you’ve sat with friends under the outspread branches of a live oak sipping sun tea chilled down with ice alongside an ice chest of water melon, you haven’t lived. Only in the Lone Star State.