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Useless Shavings from Afar

A light, fingertip grip, twist the wrists and rock the shave forward just a bit then pull. A shaving floats up and away from the wood and a sharp tang of fresh cut wood hits my nose. Its a welcome scent in this sterile tin can and probably one that will get me in trouble later. Hell everything about what I’m doing is going to get me in trouble, but I think this little diversion is not only worthwhile but necessary. Too much knowledge has already been lost in our rapid technological expansion. Its the great irony of it all that as more knowledge is at our fingertips, less of it reaches our brains.

“Enough of the philosophical deep thought crap!” I tell myself and focus on not thinking at all. This simple thing of shaving a board and coaxing it into a desired shape is not about thinking but all about feeling. The vibration of the shave as the blade engages and interacts with the fibers of the wood, tells me a great deal about how my shaping is progressing. Even this synthetic stuff which is supposed to be a Cherry variant, though my great great grandfather would just shake his head at that, does a good job of communicating to my fingers.

Swish, swish of the shave makes an interesting counterpoint to the creak of the heat/cool cycle and the basso continuo hum of the scrubbers and recyclers. I smile while I work thinking about how inefficient I’m being using a spokeshave to shape a piece of wood for such a trivial task. We all have our hobbies right and these days time is a surplus commodity on these long haul trips down the well.

Oops, a little variation in the grain near the tip causes the shave to stutter a little and the wood tears slightly. I skew the shave and pull it towards me and across the board in a slicing motion. The pitch of the cut modulates and the stutter changes to a lovely pitch bent note as the shaving changes in size as the blade runs across the wood at an angle. Another shaving floats away and drifts lazily to the deck. I’m really gonna get in trouble for these shavings if I don’t start picking them up soon.

Rotate the piece and take a shaving twisting the wrist to keep the sweet spot of the blade in contact as I shape the wood down to its blunt point. Rotate and shave, rotate and shave letting my mind drift and my fingers take over.

Just about done now. Flip the board in the vise and tackle the transition point. Funny how much thought I put into a half inch space. I put the shave back into the tool box and shut the lid. Wouldn’t be good to have the shave unsecured. I reach for a chisel to form the chamfer that turns the sharp aris into smooth, convex facet.

With the blade nestled between two fingers I rest the bevel on the aris and scoop with my left hand on the handle. As I reach the bottom of the scoop, my fingers apply pressure laterally to slice the blade across the fibers and cleanly release the shaving without tearing into the now reversing grain. Back to the top and repeat it. My fingers sense the bevel contact and make tiny adjustments to keep that surface bearing against the wood. Scoop and slice, another shaving drifts away.

There was a time when I would have sawn this to shape first or maybe used a rasp before cleaning it up with a blade. Dust is a luxury I can’t afford anymore so a blade and shaving is my only solution.

“Done and done” I say aloud with a smile.

“Let’s put you to work” and I release my stick from the vise, put the chisel away and head to the galley. The coffee machine mocks me with its silence and I smile wryly in response.

“Patience, my friend, you will be percolating soon,” and I slide my pointy stick between the machine and the bulkhead finally able to reach the errant filter that made a bid for freedom into the dark recess behind the counter.

Almost got it. Just another inch and I can capture it and slide it back up to where I can reach it.

A pitch change hits my ear again but this time its coming from outside my little, inefficient “woodworker conquers coffee filter” saga. The world shifts, the filter slides away from my stick and slide out from behind the counter all on its own in the seconds before the gimbals adjust to the change in thrust gravity. My sea legs adjust much faster and I’m able to maintain my balance to grab the filter.

Looks like we just made the course shift for final burn into Ganymede orbit and the unearthly light drifting down the hall from the observation bubble confirms the overwhelming presence of Jupiter off the port side. I guess I better get cracking on that coffee as the surplus of time just ran out. The domes down there need our ice haul and we are going to have a very busy few days ahead of us shifting millions of tons around. Busy but fun. I love these trips to Ganymede, its still gives me a thrill just knowing something as trivial as a magnetosphere to an Earther, is a life changing thing out here. The stuff they can do down there under the domes with a little solar radiation protection keeps us all alive out here. I for one am really looking forward to getting some more synthetic lumber. That was my last piece of “Cherry”.

Orion Mission PatchAfter that who knows. Depends on the contract we land. Maybe if I can pick up some more synthetic Cherry down on the surface I’ll go find a transport job out to Neptune and Nereid station. That will give me plenty of free time to make more useless pieces of wood to retrieve wayward galley implements.

That reminds me, I better go retrieve those shaving in the workshop. No telling where they ended up after the thrust shift. Can’t imagine what it would look like in there if I was making sawdust.

special thanks to the Sci Fi authors on my bookshelves and in my Audible account for the inspiration, and to the folks at NASA trying to make it a reality, good luck Orion.

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