Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's Off To Read We Go

I don't know about you, but when I can't find adequate time to play in my shop, I turn into this guy.

Since I haven't been able to work on a project for any significant length of time so far this year, I have grown a scowl, snow white beard, and furrowed brow.

However! I have had some time to start reading a new book:
A Splintered History of Wood: Belt Sander Races, Blind Woodworkers & Baseball Bats, by Spike Carlsen.

Every night, I read illuminating and entertaining passages about: wood collectors (the largest collection by an individual includes 7,000 species—only 73,000 short of all the wood species on the planet), Mira Nakashima, Jimmy Carter, chainsaw woodworkers, and the world's tallest living tree—the Stratosphere Giant—measuring a whopping 372 feet tall.

What a fun read! It's written in short, self-contained chapters—each one covering some aspect of wood and woodworking: wood in music, sports, shelter, day-to-day life, war, transportation, and unusual places; and tools, unconventional woodworkers, and how trees survive and thrive.

I've only read 100 pages out of 358, but here are a few fun facts from the book: 95% of those who subscribe to woodworking magazines are men; the workers in George Nakashima's shop turn spindles on a lathe and then facet each one with a handplane; and Jimmy Carter explains his view on the craft: "[Woodworking is] a kind of therapy, but it's also a stabilizing 
force in my life—a total rest for my mind."

Currently, I'm perusing the chapter on whatzit tools and am learning about wedding saws and two handled sledgehammers.  

There's no doubt that I'm getting amusement, enlightenment, and knowledge from reading Spike's book. But maybe I'm getting something even more important: a happier disposition.