I think that I cut the mortises in 2 minutes because they are not deep. Only half an inch or so. Chopping mortises, I drift into thoughts of different things, people I know and hopes I have for future woodworkers. I hope these future woodworkers will pursue the lifestyle of woodworking and do it as I have because they just love it. As each mortise deepens, so too my thoughts as I look into each hole I cut. The oak as a feel about it at the chisel tip that no other wood has. Oak is easy to work mindlessly. The grain lends itself to thinking about other issues as it yields so willingly to planes, saws and chisels. The saw glides in and out smoothly and evenly and four or five strokes takes me to the knifewall. I stop just shy of it and then cut the opposite side the same way. I think about my saw as it cuts and rests. I love this saw as much or more than any I have owned. There’s one on eBay.co.uk someone should snap up right now at its Buy-it-Now price of £122. They don’t come up too often and this one looks like is has lots of plate and a good looking handle. Anyway, there are 72 mortise and tenons in making the palings into the head and foot board. That gives me lots of thinking time to think about my family, my grandchildren and children, times past with them and hopes ahead for them.
The tenons somehow emerge from the ends of the palings stroke by stroke. Soon the fit the hole and I move to the next. The shoulders are only 11″ apart and side by side only 1 1/2″ apart, the shoulders must be dead on length. If one is too long it holds all the rest off. Too short leaves a gap. Tomorrow I hope to have the footboard done and dusted, but we will see. I also have to film some things for you. We’ll see how that goes.
As I go I plane every surface with my #4 or 4 1/2. They feel silky smooth and as I press the joints into their mortises I see a line where the shoulder meets that is crosshair, hairline perfect. I remove the arris to make the wood feel right in my hands. No sandpaper can do this and no machine either. I only sharpen my plane to 1200 and I do not buff with buffing compound. The surfaces are as sweet as can be. Remember we are often caught up in the illusion salesmen project into woodworking that some tells us that its the shaving we are making. That’s not the case at all.
Anyway, I had a blast today thinking and working and finding control of my hand work. I find that whenever I use machines I feel them pushing me as if they tell me what to do and at what speed. I think it’s because I can’t wait to switch them off, but at other times I think the inventor intended for the user to be driven, and I mean driven not driving, in their work. Anyone else fall for it and feel like that some times? It’s more rare for me these days. I watch for it though. When I sense it I stop and take a walk through the woods or past the fields so I can watch the sheep and the boats in the harbour. It takes only ten minutes of this and I recapture what is rightfully mine. Another thing. There is a rhythm of work I enjoy that people no longer speak of. You can’t get it the keyboard I don’t think. If you can I haven’t found it in ten years. But sliding a tenon into a mortise still pleases me. Sliding the plane in a glide still makes me smile and I still touch the surface with my now printless fingertips to sense the softness and smoothness of the wood.