I opened the workshop door and watched as morning light spread from one bench to another and then another. I’ve seen this most of my work life now, 50 years of early morning entries I suppose. I often stop as soon as I step inside and as I did this morning to soak in the work of yesterday and recapture the last sentence of yesterdays worklife written in something or someone else made. This morning I saw partly made tables and boxes, chisel trays and Shaker candle boxes. The tools were waiting in clusters at the corner of each of the workbenches I built in the yard of my house over on the Isle of Anglesey when the snows fell, covering each one of them, 12 at the time, and I carried on working despite the cold. Memories build up as you grow more senior in years. I sank the last of my pension into starting New Legacy here in the UK because I believed in the cause I had held for two decades and that is it’s worth investing in a new generation of people, yet to be born woodworkers, who want to become real woodworkers in their own right. This week I saw the rewards of my investment in the smiles of a shy dozen men who spent an extended week of nine days with me and Phil.
It’s been one of those amazing week of changing lives and having mine changed in the process of changing the lives of others. The boxes and shelves came together well and tomorrow the tables will all be done or left unglued for travel needs. We’ve had serious discussion, tested out theories and yet still got our work done. Friendships were formed and memories made. We shared joy and happiness minute by minute and everyone laughed at different things not the least of which was if I made a mistake.
This plane, rusted though it was, was the source of much surprise and I will reveal that to you all one day soon I hope. We ran bevel-ups and bevel-downs alongside one another and more surprises came. Why would a #3 Stanley smoother cause such pleasant smiling coupled with surprise? Mid afternoon we sat and chatted and it was all about wood and working it. The feedback at this stage is always valuable and even though have yet 16 hours to conclude my efforts of change, I have already changed 10 men’s lives for life.
I remember when I lived in the Texas Hill Country 100 miles from the nearest city. Sitting on the limestone bluff above the Dry Frio River on my own at midnight I looked up and was just stunned by what I saw. With no street lights, house lights anywhere to be seen, the unpolluted skies spread out as never before. Stars so near and brighter than ever in my life. You see sometimes we have to switch off the lights to really see just how very bright the night sparkling star-filled skies really are. The classes do that here. No machine in the shop, just 12 men and 12 sets of hand tools. The real power in woodworking is the people who start to see that real woodworking demands hand work. So I doused the candlelights this evening and set off home just euphoric with delight at seeing and being with men smiling and laughing and become friends with one another as they worked wood with no ear protection in a dust-free environment and an exchange of lighthearted banter throughout each of the nine days they’ve been together.
Good night everyone!