Finishing up the shelving unit today went just fine. The joints are tight enough and there are no gaps to speak of – no mean feat for some who never used hand tools before, let alone make joints and projects as large or intricate as these. This is high-demand work when you strive for these levels of accuracy using only hand work. This means no jigs and power equipment. No substitutes for developing a much deeper understanding of just what it takes to become skilled in your work and the results are profoundly simple. Here at the school we mill our stock, mostly from rough sawn material or indeed we resaw and hand plane in class to develop planing skills. As an apprentice, every surface of every piece of wood was hand planed and that included rebates (rabbets). Nothing left the shop without a hand planed surface and so, having hand planed more surface area than anyone I ever met or knew of apart from the men that trained me, I recognize the value of planing everything by hand. Truth is I never used a belt sander until I was 50. When I did I only did it very minimally. I have never cut one dovetail using a router and router jig. I saw machine cut dovetails and, well, they just never looked right. I am glad that I never did use a router for so pleasing a task.
What struck me about the guys in this class is the peace I feel when I am with them. There is a certain type of solitude that contains the creativity in a sphere of freedom from disturbance even though 10 or 12 mallets are striking within seconds of each other for several hours if not all through the day. Peace somehow rests in the mallet blows even though they crack the atmosphere. Outsiders some time meander through by accident and comment to their children on the noise. We don’t notice the noise at all, even though we are actually immersed in it. Whereas it’s true that we could not have a conversation during chopping times, we somehow manage to communicate the peace of tranquil craftsmanship that transcends the noise we make throughout the shop.
I made my second knife differently and like the way it came out using the ebony and the section of bandsaw blade. I used two finish nails for the rivets and that worked OK, but they could have been softer. They were hard to peen over, but it was what I had.
At 9am tomorrow morning we start the end tables and I think everyone is looking forward to that. The oak all looked good as I milled it early this morning. I bought a 3’ x 3’ x 5’ long pallet of 1” stock a few months ago and this is the last 25% of it. That’s about 500 board feet , 45 meter sq. and so far I have had almost no waste.