In an hour I go from neatness and order to a scene of seeming chaos yet I feel settled in the build of shavings at my bench and feet. In the same one hour, I’ve carved and shaped the whole seat to my rocking chair, formed the two tenons connecting the back from to the front frame yet no machine or so-called power tool pollutes me, my bench nor my work area and work. I shun the unskilled and reach for the skills now born deep, deep inside me over long periods where self-discipline and patience became innate.
My bench constantly gathers up the evidence of every stroke I’ve taken with muscle, sinew and the stretched extensions of my wrists, arms, hands, and fingers and then too each intake of breath as if the plane and the shave and the gouge exhaled my intent in shavings and shaved wood. I hear no voices as I work to pull and push the tools. I wear no mask nor do I allow devices to distract me or block out the sounds of my chisel hammer, planes, and the travishers and scorps that shave and shape my intent. I need no such cushions and pillows to soften the impact of my work; padding only dulls the significance of my handwork and in my world of making offers no value.
An upturned chair supports my working tools as I work the wood to form tenons and my reach is always convenient. In one hour I have made and I sweep once more the bench and the workshop floor, place my tools carefully once more, ready for use, and I stop to see what I have made, to examine the quality of my work, to search the depth of the grain, to question the balance of things now shaped by the sharp edges of my tools. I reach for the curved edge of my steel scraper and sharpen it yet again and without hesitation. This tool alone resolves all issues in wild grain that otherwise resists my handwork and levels the undulations left by my planing. My skills settle the matter and the power of my hands and arms, shoulders and chest reach now to rest in the finished work. As the chair settled on its shaped, upturned arches I feel a contentment I have never found using any other method for I know deep inside me that I just made a rocking chair with my own heart, body, mind and soul!
Sweeping and clearing are very much a part of the completion in my making. It concludes hour on hour the work of my day like commas and full stops punctuate my sentences and paragraphs. When sleep comes to restore my mind, my emotion and my aching body in the night, I find the rest that gives me perfect peace for when I wake to start once more a new day and a new dawn. These are the things I love about the lifestyle I have in working my wood by hand.
Have a good day my friends. Leave the COVID outside the workshop door if you can and focus more on the work of your hands. Yesterday is now gone and no longer exists, tomorrow doesn’t yet exist, but today is here and now and you can focus on making the very best of it you can minute by minute. What you do today paves the way for the future! This alone simplifies life’s workings.