My blogging friend over at Almost Iowa threw out a “My Stuff” challenge. I don’t typically take on such challenges, but Greg is one of my all-time favorites and I’ve been trying to recruit him to be the northern contingent of 2021 – The Year Without Pants (sponsored by Al Bundy) and figure this is all a part of the process. So here it goes:
My Table Saw
I grew up in the workshop – well, not literally because sleeping on sawdust can lead to copious amounts of morning eye gunk. But my basement room was next door to my dad’s workshop and I became very comfortable with tools at an early age. I also got comfortable with blood. Blood happens when you work with sharp blades. I remember carving something for my sister once and I cut the crap out of my finger in the process. I had planned on leaving the finish natural, but had to stain it a nice cherry red to match my residue.
When I became a man… (okay, writing that made me laugh.)
When I grew up… (that’s no better.)
When my young wife and I bought our first home, one of the prerequisites was a basement. After the ink dried on the contract, I charged down the stairs and chose a room to be my shop. Once I had mentally mapped out the placement of all the equipment I intended to buy, I returned upstairs to carry my waiting wife over the threshold and our new life as homeowners began.
To have a proper workshop, you first need a centerpiece: the table saw. This expenditure became a point of contention for my lovely bride and me. With a new mortgage and a very limited budget – we had separate goals. She wanted a sweet, cuddly baby (or four) to fill a nursery on the second floor, and I wanted a 220 volt, shiny baby to chew wood below ground. This might be the first and only argument I ever won and I did so with the diplomacy of Churchill. “If you want a cradle, I need a table saw.”
And so, I purchased my table saw.
Over the years, we’ve built a lot of furniture together, my table saw and me. That gorgeous hunk of iron has taught me a few things about life, love, and marriage which I’d like to share in no particular order:
- Don’t skimp on the important stuff. Worthwhile things come at a cost.
- Life is messy – if you aren’t making sawdust, you aren’t making progress.
- Patience is imperative. Shortcuts leave sloppy joints that are obvious in the final piece.
- Respect sharp metal that spins at 3000 RPM. If you get complacent or careless with things you love, you can get hurt.
- Plan every cut. Think through outcomes before you set the fence and blade height because until the wood-stretcher is invented, the cut is permanent.
- Don’t skip the maintenance. If you want things to last, you have to tighten, oil, and clean what you’ve got.
- You get better at it. Experience has taught me massive amounts about designing and building furniture (and life).
- You’ve got to turn her on every now and then.
Yeah, my table saw and me have been through a lot of lumber.
We’ve built a table for an orphanage in Africa
We’ve shared space with Kylie – my only kid who loved being in the shop. Together, the three of us designed and built this dresser – complete with bun feet and a secret compartment
We’ve built some other stuff, too.
I guess you could say, my table saw has had a lot to do with building me.