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Better Living Through Hardwood

It has been a rough week. Between a bad fall resulting in a few stitches in my hand planing hand and total website failure during a web host migration I have lost a bit of sleep.  When my Hand Tool School business went down for almost 3 days I took it personally and did everything in my highly limited power to get it back up and running.

The host migration was necessary because the school is having growing pains and needed more bandwidth and storage space to accommodate the growing content library and growing membership. This move will improve site performance and lesson download speed but also provide a great deal of scalability as the site continues to grow. The migration has also freed me up to add in some new bells and whistles and I’m developing a new site to showcase all of this right now. This is all besides the point but I wanted to share that I’m reinvesting in the Hand Tool School to make it better.

Last night after I had made some database changes and had submitted a trouble ticket to my new host I was in a position where there was nothing I could do but wait. This is when you take a step back and do a self diagnostic. I hurt…everywhere. Hours of hunching at a computer in deep concentration combined with a bruised body from my fall on Monday and lacerations on my left hand had all built up to make me feel miserable. I needed to unwind, move around, and get out of the online business owner mindset.  I needed to visit the shop!

Reclaimed Genuine Mahogany cutoffsLast week, I ventured into the back of the lumber yard at work to pull some of the reclaimed lumber from our “graveyard”. I need to build a few benches for a new patio table I’m building and some of this weathered lumber would be good to use because it is already well acclimated to living outside. I had sawn up some chunks of 8 and 10/4 Sapele and Utile into 36″ lengths and brought them home. So it was these boards that greeted me when I entered the shop. They are in rough shape. Some checking, warping, and graying from UV exposure if readily evident. The moisture content varies from 10-15% as they have been rained and snowed on for many years. Despite all of this ugliness, I can’t help but be invigorated by the possibilities present in these few hunks of African hardwood.

Wide Genuine MahoganyWide lumber is always exciting and humbling. There are so many things you can do with it but you recognize the rarity of wide stock these days and want to do it justice. I’m particularly interested to see how easily it will be to clean up this lumber into “fine” working condition as well as how it will respond to my shop environment after being exposed to the elements then planed into parts. I began to mark out these boards into parts for my benches and to closely examine the grain and any checking or defects. Before I knew it the aches and pains were gone and my mind was clear and focused. This is how I know I was born to do this stuff. An hour spent in the shop just examining these beautiful hardwoods and planning a project was enough to wash away all the other distractions and worries. What can you say, but better living through hardwoods!

We have an awful lot of this “reclaimed” lumber and I’m working on a way to start selling it to all of you. Stay tuned over the next few weeks and I will report back on how this hardwood works. Ideally I will have a couple of benches ready for 4th of July weekend.

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