There are times when my bench gets freed up from a newly completed project. It’s a rare thing for it to be open and empty, a few brief minutes, mostly. I have just put 15 handmade router planes into boxes and I am about to add in the ones I use regularly made from cast metal. I am also about to load the bench with more wood for the next project I am feeling a creative buzz about. Actually, I just did, since typing in these first three lines. Strips of scraps just became a set of items and two weeks ago more strips and offcuts became something completely different. In my quest to teach and train I use every scrap I can, be that wood, my energies and then too every scrappy minute of time. This is who I am.
Often, scraps left are just too small for me to use for much more than the fire and heating. Other times they go to a local disability and restoration charity for a wide range of good reasons because people there make amazing things as part of the charity’s rejuvenating therapies getting people into work, back into work and then too into better health and ability. I suppose I’m saying that there is no waste when it comes to working creatively with real wood, it’s more how we think and deal with it and so too, there is no wasted effort. I take two bags of scraps too small for any entity or too rough and rugged to use for projects each week. I lean them at the front of my driveway with a sign saying ‘Free, kiln-dried firewood’, and an hour or two later they’re gone. The plastic bags are stout, reusable and often turn up folded neatly under my doormat or a planter a few days later. Shavings are more problematic because the local council does not see them as recyclable. Machine chips are more easily dealt with because they are not continuous strands that entangle everything if allowed to float free as garden mulch, pet bedding and such. Because of the risk to horses, I cannot give the shavings for bedding; walnut shavings can apparently kill a horse, literally. So I suck the air out of the bags with a vacuum cleaner to a third of the size and they go as waste, but still to the recycle centre for them to deal with.
This week I made a new router plane. Well, I actually made the fifteen I spoke of as each iteration gave me an improvement or a different type with a specific function. In the final version, the whole operation took me about an hour and a half and cost about £3. I tell you this because it was so very absorbing and quite a luxury for me to take a couple of weeks out to perfect an idea I have contemplated tackling for a year or more. I wanted something that was a poor-man’s router plane without it being of a lesser standard in performance with any of the ones I own and use. Now that that is achieved I can get back to my next piece for Sellers’ home and filming this week. We did film the new plane, by the way.
The clock is always ticking for me! I just finished the drawings for three projects and now my rhythm is restored I am preparing for this week to come. I went to look at timber with John and was happy to see Oak from Europe and the USA in abundant volume along with sycamore, elm, ash, American cherry, Poplar and two dozen more. I plan to go back next week with the trailer to load up wood for 2022/23. I like to get my wood in ahead to get it acclimated, thoroughly dry and ready for projects before I touch it.
To make room I have been blanket wrapping and stacking ten years of masterclasses projects in a safe and controlled environment. That’s a lot of pieces if you have been with me for any length of time. You must remember that I often make more than one of anything we film so it is rarely one coffee table but more likely to be three and then of course, there are some part-made or completed that I reject for different reasons but still keep anyway. The wonderful thing now is that every piece I am making going forward will be going into Sellers’ home to take up its rightful place in each room that it is custom-made for.
Living room, kitchen, hallways and dining room, bedrooms and so on.
Stay with me for an exciting platform of new woodworking in new videos and new projects. It’s a special time for us all and the therapy of woodworking after so long a time of covid threats I am hoping greatly for 2022. I don’t do well on sun-soaked beaches or following the tourist tracks. I do do well when I am making and designing and teaching. My work is my vacation!