Sunday, August 15, 2010

On Packing And Practicality

A friend once told me, "Women always have aspirin in their purses."

By that, he didn't mean that we suffer from headaches all the time, but that women tend to be prepared for "just in case" scenarios.

Which is why we pack so much for trips.

I'm getting ready for my week-long class at Country Workshops and have made an ongoing list of things to take along. Items include clothes for temperatures ranging from 50º to 90º and from sunny to rainy (we'll be in the mountains), Ibuprofen (we'll be swinging axes for a week), band aids and flexible adhesive wrap (for nicked fingers), camera and camcorder, way more batteries than I'll ever need, a notebook, and three pens (in case one is lost and one runs out of ink) get the picture.

I'm also packing lots of tools, many of which needed to be sharpened, which is what I did yesterday. While laying out my tools, I realized that two did not have protective covers for transport. So I spent some of yesterday making very quick, down-and-dirty blade guards for my Mora knife and crosscut saw.

For the knife, I made a wooden sheath. For the saw, I sawed a kerf in a piece of wood, dropped the blade into it, and attached it with twine.

While sharpening my axes and adze, I found that my little saw bench is a helpful accessory. To check my progress, I turned the axe around, moved to the side (so the blade wasn't in line with my face) and wedged the handle between the split in the top and bench's leg so I could examine the cutting edge more closely and touch it up with stones.

When the handle slipped, I grabbed the nearest chisel and mallet and started vigorously and roughly chopping out a ledge in the leg on which the handle could be wedged more securely.

My partner walked through my shop at that moment, observed what I was doing, and asked with mild alarm, "Are you allowed to do that?"

"It's my bench." I answered.

"But, do people do that?" She asked with increasing concern.

"The bench is just a tool." I shrugged.

She walked away. I hadn't convinced her that I wouldn't be banished from the woodworking community for having damaged my bench.

I have no problem with altering tools to meet my needs. If it makes a tool fit more comfortably in my hand or work more efficiently, I'll reshape, regrind, or recreate it. The only tools I wouldn't touch are in the collectors' category, but I don't own any.

For the class, we were asked to bring branches for the spoons we'll carve. I discovered that the split in the top of the saw bench works great at supporting a branch—much like a V-block—when sawing to length.

The bench works so well at so many tasks, in fact, I'm thinking about packing it and taking it with me to class.

Just in case.


Larry Marshall said...

Great post, Kari. I can just see the looks on faces as you waltz into the classroom with a sawbench on your shoulder :-)

Cheers --- Larry "aka Woodnbits"

Vic Hubbard said... want me to send Nancy a affidavit stating you're still in good standing? :o)

Nancy said...

She appeared to be violently destroying something she had made. I was shocked.

Adrian Baird Ba Than said...

Good on ye!
If something doesn't work as well as it could,in my mind,it's broken & needs fixing or to put it another way,is unfinished & needs finishing.Good to see your brain is made from similar stuff...

Charles "Sunshine" Davis said...

Nancy if you see her walk towards her Sawbuck Table with axe in hand you have permission to tackle her and inquire as to intentions.

If she intimates any sort of modification to that grab all the duct tape on the premises and "secure" her and contact us for an intervention!

Have a great time at class Kari!

Dyami Plotke said...

Sounds as though you're better packed than my cousin was for vacation (no toiletries). Enjoy the class and feel free to take any tool you own to your bench. It is yours and we'll all have your back.

Tico Vogt said...

You're not telling the whole story here, Kari. C'mon now, how many pairs of shoes are you packing?

JimK said...

I often get the same reaction from my wife. I believe anything I built and for that matter what others built was only an initial suggestion.... sometimes subject to change or "improvement". I learned that in the first house I remodeled... walls "Oh those are only suggestions".

Have a great time at your class in NC Kari. If you've not been to western NC your in for a treat.
Have fun.
Jim K

Tom Buhl said...

Have fun at your class.
Is that Lee Nielsen twine I see you using?

Kari Hultman said...

Larry, haha! I actually am taking it with me. :o)
I think that some of the other students will bring bowl benches with them, so maybe I won't look so odd.

Vic, yes!

Nancy, sorry for the scare. ; )

Black, glad to hear I'm not the only one. I suspected that others were prone to altering their tools as well. Nice to know I'm in good company. :o)

Sunshine, if I approach my sawbuck with an axe, I'm duct taping myself!

Dyami, no toiletries? Yikes. My mantra has always been (when packing for vacation): Money, Make up, and MasterCard. As long as you have those, you can buy whatever you forgot. But, a girl's gotta have her make up in order to be able to go out and buy them. haha

Tico, that's funny! I'm not a fashion-conscious person. (more like a fashion tragedy). So, I'll just bring two pairs of sneakers in case one pair gets muddy.

Jim, we went to Asheville a few years ago and it was just gorgeous. North Carolina is a beautiful state. Hope I'm able to concentrate on class and not spend all day looking at the scenery.

Tom, why, yes it is! :D

Steve said...

Modification of the sawbench is perfectly acceptable ... maybe even mandatory. I cut saddles in mine so a 3/4" pipe clamp could fit down into the rip slot. ;)

Bill said...

Need someone to carry your bench while you are busy in class?

Great post; have fun in NC!

Docwks said...

I know it's not cool like a piece of wood & twine, but I take a couple of saws with me when I'm doing turning demo's and I just use PVC with a slice in one side and a v notch on each end of the slice. Other wise you spend way to much time trying to pry it apart. I'm sure traditionalist won't like my solution, I know this cause when I sent my dovetail saw off to Bad Axe to have it sharpened, highly happy, it came back with a kerfed piece of wood. The PVC was in the box though. ;-)
Bill D.

Kari Hultman said...

Steve, that's a good idea, thanks!

Thanks, Bill. :o)

Bill, hey, whatever works for you. I could have just wrapped the knife in cloth for transport. Of course, I only thought of that as was finishing up the sheath. Can you shoot me an email when you have a minute:

Joseph Pritchard said...

Ahh, mmm, Kari, if you don't own any "collectible" tools, you could just send me the "user grade" chip carved smoother and the carved sharpening stone case. ;-)

Gye Greene said...

Hey -- good for you on not being afraid to "mod"/"hack" your sawbench. Although personally, my willingness to mod something would be inverse to how much refinement the initial form had. (e.g., you probably wouldn't cut a notch in the back of your sawbuck table in order to accomodate a floor lamp). ;)

Knife scabbard: "Oh, just a quick little thing I threw together..." No, no -- a folded-over piece of cardboard and a pair of rubber bands fits **that** description. You are all too modest. :)


Brian said...

Hi there
Ive been reading your blog for a while . You craft beautiful items! enjoy your trip :)Brian(:

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea for protecting your saws, which I have been using for awhile. I use sliding bar report covers (Avery 47320). A pack of six are only a few bucks and the bars slide right over the teeth and stay in place. I cut them to length for each saw. You might need several for longer saws. Hope this helps.

Thanks for all the things you have taught this novice woodworker.