Friday, June 27, 2008

From a Professional To a Hobbyist

Going from a professional woodworker to a hobbyist is easer said then done, and I am not sure I will ever really make that transition completely. I think in my mind I will always be trying to find a way to make money with my woodworking. Thirty years of habit is hard to break.

The hardest thing I am finding is motivation to do woodworking at all, because in the pass it was always a job that pushed me into the shop. Now I find my self kind of lost in thought, I mean I want to try some new things I haven’t gotten to explore in the pass but I find myself just sharpening my tools or designing dozen of different tables that might sell. It’s like I can’t bring myself to put tool to wood without the promise of payment. Maybe woodworking has been a job for me so long now I am afraid to let myself start enjoying the pleasures of it, and slow down and relax while I build a just for fun. When you do woodworking for a living and if you work for yourself everything you do relates back to money so you lost a lot of the enjoyment when you build and you take on a lot of stress. The pieces that you build are dictated by your customers, the time you spend working on it are dictated by the price you are getting paid for it, and in that there isn’t much room for enjoyment with the exception of job well done and a satisfied customer.

I am hoping with a little time I will find my way back to what brought me to woodworking in the first place, maybe I need to just go with it and follow my instincts and see where they take me. Maybe what my minds telling me is to go back to the beginning and work my way though from there, I purchased Chris Schwarz Workbenches Book and I am planning building a Roubo bench for myself. I also picked up several used planes, and hand saws at some yard sales that I have been restoring back to working condition to start using. I also plan to try different areas of styles woodworking that I haven’t gotten to try in the pass to see if one of them lights some sore of fire in me. I do know I enjoy carving and I have not gotten to do a lot of that in the pass so we’ll see what happens. I also would like to try my hand at making tools maybe make myself a couple of hand planes and my own saws and see where that goes and writing seems to excite as much as any building does so I really want to keep doing more how to articles in this blog not just my thoughts, so you can look forward to seeing more of that. So stay safe


Monday, June 9, 2008

My Ten Cent Chisel

In one of my older blog I talked about a fellow giving me a 1 ½ inch chisel that didn’t have a handle on it. Well last night I was kind of bored so I decided to put a new handle on it. But the tang of the chisel was a little beat up, it looked like someone was using it without the handle and they had it the metal rolled over, so I used a brace with a reamer on it to cut off all the rolled metal, then filed the top flat, this gave me a flat top and a nice clean taper. Then I soaked the chisel in a solution of Kool-Aid, yes Kool-Aid. I did this to remove the rust and it works well, all you do is mix a package of Kool-Aid with ½ the water and no sugar. I let it soak for a couple of hours then dried the chisel off really good. This took all the surface rust off, but there was still some corrosion and pits in it but this won’t affect the chisel.

. I had some maple from a stool that I cut off from the legs and the off fall looks like they would fit the bill just right. I started preparing the handle by finding the center then I measure the depth I need for the tapered that fits in the chisels tang, then I used a saw to cut a shoulder around the maple and started removing material with a chisel, once I had a round tendon I started on the taper, here again I also used a chisel and rasp. After some trial and error I had a good fit. Then I cut some small nicks in the taper for the epoxy to have something to bite into. I also nicked the inside of the tank of the chisel for the same reason. Then I glued the handle to the chisel with five minute epoxy.

When the epoxy was set I clamped the chisel in my vise and used a spoke shave to rough the handle down to size, then I used a block plane to further clean up the handle. When I had a shape that was close the what I was looking for I started refining to shape by working with files and sandpaper, now I know this tool will a tool that I will be using with my hand more that beating on with a mallet and I wanted something that was comfortable, so I paid a lot of attention to how it felt in my hand and I work from that prospective. Most of the chisels I have purchased in the pass are uncomfortable for me to use in my hands because the handles are to small and they put to much pressure in a small area of my hand causing pain after just a short time working with them so I want a larger butt on the handle of the chisel, this will also give a larger striking area if I am using a mallet and it gave the chisel better balance.

Now for a couple hour of work if you can call it that, and a package of lemon Kool-Aid I have a really nice 1 ½ chisel that would of cost me maybe 30 or 40 dollars, but more that that I got the chance to talk to a interesting man, recycle a nice tool, save a small scrap of maple, and get the satisfaction of making my own tools, well sort of, and I all ready know I’ll be reaching for that chisel more than the one I bought at the store. What more can you ask from ten cents?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Is Our County Dying or is There Any Hope

You know I have been planning my business for a few months and have been really excited about it, but this past couple week we have gotten some really bad news in our part of Ohio, DHL which is one of the biggest employers in Wilmington has laid off 6,000 employees. I was listening to a Columbus TV station and they were saying that Gov Strickland "said it looked more like 8,000 or 9,000 employees were going to lose their jobs" although the state is going to try to block DHLs move I think its pretty much a done deal. This is just one of several in the area that has closed down and that has just been in this year alone, and I don't see with so many people going out business how it would make any sense for me to start a business. I know in my last blog I wrote I thought small business was the way to save these small towns, but now people are not going to have enough money in this area live not alone fix houses or buy custom furniture, they are going to be to busy just trying to survive. Gas prices being as high as they are and food going though the roof, I just don't see me having any kind of a customer base here. Sadly I am not going to start this venture at this time.

I'm not giving up on my woodworking, oh no. I'm just not going to try making a living at it. I'll just keep doing it as a hobby and build for friends and family. Maybe takes some classes in some areas that I am weak in like turning, and design. Spend some more time doing hand work which I enjoy. and work on my finishing which most woodworkers are weak at, and I plan on keep writing about it in this blog it will just change it's focuse.

Now, I just got to figure out whats next, what do I do now, I'm thinking about truck driving school, or hell maybe I'll just go work at McDonald's so stay tune and I'll keep you posted.


Monday, June 2, 2008

My Dying Little Town

Here we sit planning a new business in our town and I just notice that all a round us other businesses are going out of business. In the last twelve months there has been at lease three major companies closed their doors including Palm Harbor Home who manufactured low cost prefab homes. Mac Tools have and slowed down their production. Our main street has many more unoccupied store fronts then occupied ones. So why! I ask you would I want to try to start a business in a town that looks like it is for lack of a better term dying.

Well I think that on a whole, little towns all across the country are going though the same type changes with business closing or moving off shore, and with gas going to four dollars a gallon people really can’t afford to live out here and drive to the city. I know we are paying almost 20% of every dollar my wife make just for her to drive to work and for some people it much higher. So again why should I try to start a woodworking business in my little town?

As I thought about this and I have giving it a lot of thought I came up with this, I believe that small business is what is going to drive any recovery we have in this economy especially for small towns like ours. I think it’s time that small towns like these needs to try to make it more attractive for small businesses to open up and do business in them. I also think its time to go back to living and working in the same community that you live. I know that’s one thing I think we lost and with it a sense of community. When business owners live in the same community that they do business they are more likely to be more involved in that community because it is also their home. Wouldn’t it be great to see pride in our towns come back and I’ m not talking about that few days a year like we now we do it now.

The how? now that’s the hard part. I have notice in several of the magazines’ I read, in their classifieds they have been posting for artist and crafts people wanting them to consider moving to their towns. They have come up with special finance on housing and studio space some towns have even purchased abandoned factories and convert them to workshops studios, and retail space. Some of these communities have attract some of the top artist in there fields and in turn they offer apprenticeships’ which attract people from all over the country, both to learn and shop for their wares. This has helped to open bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, restaurants, other small gifts shops, antique shops and a host of other small businesses that help to revive and energize a small town.

So this is just one example of how small businesses can revive a dying little town. It would take time, patients, money, talent, and above all faith. So do I think I will start a business in my dying little town, why yes, and who knows maybe I will be planting the seed of change or I could just fall on flat on butt and go broke. But I will never know unless I try, will I, so all I can do now is do my homework, save my money, plan the best I can, and go for it.