Posts Tagged ‘Galoot’

Religion, Politics, and Woodworking

23 January, 2009

Now that Obama has been inaugurated, I figure it’s safe to say that we might have a new president.  I’ve perceived that he’s rather controversial despite the fact that I’ve tried really hard to ignore current events these last few months.  I think I’m to where I care a lot more about a thin, wispy shaving coming off of a well-tuned vintage Stanley plane than what people are predicting about the future of our country.  My country, dagnabit, sweet land of liberty!  So far, I still have the liberty to behave that way, too, and to use my energy blogging, podcasting, writing, woodworking, EMT’ing and firefighting, all while being a father to my children.  So that’s the politics end of things.  And then there is the religious…

In a former, not-too-distant past I was, shall we say, a religious leader.  I stopped doing that as a vocation for a variety of reasons, but one thing still sticks: I never quite got over how many people’s behavior would change toward me when they found out what I was.  I’m a shy person, and when someone would suddenly start treating me like I was waiting and watching, hoping they would make a boo-boo so that I could pounce on them, rebuke them and correct them, I get even more shy.  So my relief valve always came in the form of thin, wispy shavings.  That was the religious part.

So, in the midst of a virtual rolling sea of pundits with opinions as firm as said rolling sea, there lies around my ankles batches of shavings, and life is good.  Knowing that the woodworking community is remarkably free of chest-pounding and sabre-rattling (with the notable exception of those of us that are Galoots enjoying the ironic humor in identifying ourselves as part of a subversive woodworking movement.)  Knowing that when it comes down to it, when I meet a fellow woodworker online or in person, the odds are that they are going to have certain characteristics in common with me: an appreciation for a quick wit, an insatiable curiosity about our common activity, probably an interest in history, the desire to exchange concepts, techniques, and lore with others of like mind, and usually the desire to remain focused on this beautiful medium we are blessed to work in, leaving politics and religion out of it.

So, I predict that 2009 is going to be the best woodworking year we have ever experienced together!

Pre-game Jitters

11 November, 2008

Today my wife and I will be packing, double checking reservations, double checking what we’ve packed, getting folks lined up to feed the critters while we are gone, and making sure everything is lined out for our trip to Berea, Kentucky.  There I will be attending the Woodworking in America conference, a kind of a dream-come-true for Galoots and aspiring Galoots.logo

In case you haven’t already heard, this conference is an opportunity to learn woodworking tips and techniques from the likes of Adam Cherubini, Mike Dunbar, Frank Klausz, Christopher “The Schwartz,” Roy “St. Roy” Underhill, and to rub elbows with esteemed toolmakers such as Thomas Lie-Nielsen, John Economaki, Robin Lee, and Mike Wenzloff (I’ve left many other names off because you can click on the link faster than I can type.)  You can see why I would be excited… and anxious because I want to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything I need to take!

BUT THERE’S MORE!  Yes, as I’ve contended in previous blogs, woodworking is a hobby or a profession, but it is also a community.  Berea is an opportunity to get together with the extremely cool people that have become fast friends via the web, podcasts, and Twitter.  Since I seem to be in a name-dropping posture this morning, I’m looking forward to seeing Marc Spagnuolo (The Wood Whisperer), Matt Vanderlist (Matt’s Basement Workshop), Shannon Rogers (The Renaissance Woodworker/Rogers Fine Woodworking), Kari Hultman (The Village Carpenter Blog), and about 320 potential new Galoot-type friends.  This promises to be the coolest event of 2008, and I’m hopeing we can get signed up for 2009 while we are there.

AND EVEN MORE!  A decade ago, over the protests of the more insightfull professors, I was released from a an intensive study program with a Masters of Divinity degree taken at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.  As in, roughly an hour’s drive north of Berea.  This is like going home!  So, here’s my perspective: going home to somewhere I haven’t been in 10 years, meeting old friends I’ve never seen before, making new friends I don’t know yet, and rubbing elbows with people I’ve seen on TV and in print.

I can’t wait for tomorrow!

So What’s Wrong With Luddites, Anyway?

29 September, 2008

Once again the literary blog of Chris Schwartz has stimulated my own (somewhat cranked) chain of consciousness toward the philosophical side of woodworking.  “The Schwartz” recently offered a very positive review of Roy Underhill’s newest book (the link is here), which wasn’t fair because I can’t go out and buy it yet, and pre-ordering it only makes me feel like I’m 8 years old and it’s three weeks before Christmas.  Dang.  I’m pre-ordering it anyway, and I had a good Christmas when I was 8.

 

One of the commentators on the blog mentioned that some view St. Roy in particular, and from that I assume the Galooterati in general, as being Luddite.  I pondered that for a little bit, checked Wikipedia to make sure the commentator was talking about the Luddite movement of England in the throes of the Industrial Revolution, and then concluded that such a thrown stone packed all the wallop of being called a “Neanderthal Woodworker” or a “Galoot.”  Hit me again, please!

 

Now, to be a Luddite in the purest sense of the word, I would need to be militantly against the use of power tools.  Personally, I’m not that way; I really don’t have the time to spend felling a maple tree (the hardest part is FINDING a maple tree in central Texas), hewing it, pit sawing it, stickering the flitches, ripping them with a hand saw, scrub planning them to near thickness, well, you get the idea.  If I had to rely on those methods, it would be a very long time before anything would ever come out of my shop, with the possible exception of me in a pine box.

 

On the other hand, I fully concur with Chris that it is essential that we never, ever lose the techniques that correspond with the old tools that we celebrate.  We venerate St. Roy because he takes such joy in passing along that knowledge (in his own inimitable style.)  In an earlier blog, I expounded on how I feel that passing on the knowledge of those who have gone before us honors them and connects us to them.  If that’s Luddite, bring it!

The Fate of Old Tools

23 September, 2008

One of my favorite blogs to follow (and do my best to be a nuscance on) is Chris Schwartz’s Woodworking Magazine blog.  I was reading today’s post about hand saw rehabillitation,  and that started my creative juices flowing.  You can see Chris’ blog by clicking the link here.  I admire Chris and find much wisdom (and considerable wit) in what he writes.  If you aren’t reading his blog regularly, get off this one and go pick that one up now!

Somewhere in the midst of his shill for a great-sounding hand saw sharpening service, I was confronted by two thoughts.  The first thought is that one can not really call oneself a Galoot unless one knows how to sharpen one’s own saws.  I don’t.  Yet.  So, after I dried myself off from my self-recrimination immersion, I went on to the next big thought of the day, which occurred to me when Chris referenced a shelf of “damned tools.”  Said another way, Chris referred to a particular saw residing on a “Shelf of Hopeless Tools.”  It evoked images of some childhood Christmas claymation reference “The Island of Misfit Toys.”  I immediately had images of choo-choos with square wheels and polka-dotted dollies with alligator tears all singing around a campfire on Christmas eve… you know what I mean.  The concept of Hopless Tools is just to provocative for me.  So I became provoked, and Chris will probably justifiably delete my reply.

What I tried to point out was that the Path of the Galoot includes the pride of bottom-feeding.  Our greatest scores come when we can report back to other Galooterati on a great estate sale score or better yet — a bona fide flea market “Neener!”  As illustration, I pointed out the crispy No.-4 that looked like a University of Texas football jersey when I got it, and after TLC is my daily go-to smoother.

It is my particular thesis that there is no such thing as a hopeless tool.  So your saw blade winds up with a 90 degree bend in it: use it to saw dovetails in three mintues like Frank Klaus, or salvage the usable parts and rehab an ailing saw.  You find a plane that has bounced off concrete one too many times and has a broken mouth?  It can’t sing anymore, but like the young boy who gives up his heart in death in order to let a young girl across the country live, there are parts and pieces to be used in the rehab of a needy plane.

No hope?  Never give up hope in old tools, I say.  Send them to me.

The Wall, with apologies to Pink Floyd

8 September, 2008

In keeping with this whole “Community of Believers” thing that seems to be happening in my woodworking life right now, I’ve come to note that woodworkers are among the funniest people on the internet.  I’m not talking about some mindless physical three-stooges comedy (a good reason NOT to have a webcam in my shop, btw…) but people who can look at life and truly enjoy it.  And each other.

Have you ever noticed how many woodworking terms have emerged from podcasts, blogs, and listservs?  The OldTools listserv even has a glossary for “jargon” reference.  I mean, of course, the list jargon, not what separates a breast drill from a post drill.  An individual becomes passionate about something, whips out a term and throws it against the wall, and it sticks.

To wit: Somewhere between Marc and Matt, the term “The Schwartz” has found it’s place in woodworking nomenclature.  “Galoot” and “Neanderthal” go way back as badges of honor.  I see now that “Scary Sharp” has become a commonplace method.  It looks like “shwag” is taking off, too (I had to look that one up.  Drug culture?  Really!)

This is a very small cross-sampling observed by an admitted wordsmith.  It might be worth putting together a living, breathing lexicon of some of these newer terms.  Throw some of your favorite terms against my wall!

Hello world!

5 May, 2008

Meet The Wood Shepherd!  The philosophical side of woodworking!

Why woodwork?  Now there is a question. 

I’m very involved in learning yacht design, and my instructor/mentor has summed up yachts, which most of us view as an unnecessary luxury (because we want one and can’t afford it,) very simply.  Most of us no longer earn our living using boats as a tool to catch fish or lobsters with.  That leaves us with the sole reason we design boats, build boats, and sail boats, is to make ourselves happy.  Happiness is certainly a noble pursuit.  Using that logic then, the reason I may build a table or a guitar is to make someone happy.  It may be someone who is playing the guitar and that certainly doesn’t exclude the joy of the process brings me, but nonetheless the guitarist is playing in order to make someone happy (including the guitarist) as well, and thus it goes on.

During our journey together I hope to talk with you about building things out of wood.  Those things might be a really cool guitar, or a beautiful Queen Anne bonnet-top highboy chest, or perhaps it is even a Whitehall rowing dinghy.  Maybe I’ll teach you something about it, maybe you’ll teach me.  But the journey will make us both happy!