The reality of COVID-19 is that I finally found a few days to work through many boxes of collected and gathered woodworking tools garnered from 55 years of daily woodworking. Many memories floated out from the cardboard boxes to waft into my nostrils with some of the most wonderful memories I can recall. Plough planes made from wood are the most evocative with their complexities held in the chunky clunkiness of vintage beech stretching back 150 years, but then I recall a single plate of steel saving me from a situation when I delivered the pieces to the White House and discovered a glue run we all missed for some very strange reason. Additionally, scents from eras well beyond my timespan came in oils and shavings seemingly locked into the wood as a time-lock message. Some say that if you could bottle the smell of a new car you would have a saleable commodity. If we had a choice, mine would be the opening of a toolbox sealed by a man sometime in the late 1800s.
One day these tools will end up in the auction rooms but until then I will keep them safe for my work, experimenting, researching, and so on. These tools gave me the greatest joy in so many ways not the least of which was likely finding out what I did not know about them and could never have known without me questioning the whys and wherefores of what this or that was for. I thought the Sandusky plough (plow USA) plane was an amazing tool and mine came from a carpenter selling this with a full set of cutters so he could be half a chopsaw.
I am grateful for these rose-smelling commas and periods punctuating my life that make sense of a life sentence in woodworking. Opening up the cases and boxes took me back to Merlin’s bench and then I drifted to old Bill’s box with his ultimatum braces and rolls of ward chisels. Tonight is the culmination of two weeks immersed in sorting out.