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Wood Shaving Therapy…

We are all busy and as the year draws to a close and the holiday frenzy spins up our lives obtain a fever pitch. It is during this hectic time that I like to steal away if only for 15 minutes to my workshop and try to obtain a bit of serenity. Many of us feel at home in our workshops and don’t even have to be working on something to derive a measure of peace from being surrounded by wood and our tools. However, I find that taking whatever short time I have to do something helps to calm my mind and refresh my soul.

I arrived home from the office after a long day knowing that I needed to head back out in a minute to run a few errands with my wife. There was not time to really get into anything nor did I want to sit down in front of the TV knowing that the law of inertia would probably keep me there. Instead I wandered into the shop and looked around thinking I would take in the smell of wood shavings for a bit. Laying on my bench was a the parallel guide for the sliding leg vise of my Roubo. I had drilled the peg holes already and I only needed to cut the detail on the end before joining it to the mortise on the chop.

Such a simple task to saw two miters and clean them up but one that would enfold me in such a feeling a contentment and excited peace.

A quick whack of the mallet upon the hold fast cemented the guide to the front of the bench at an angle, presenting the miter cut in a vertical aspect. Pinch the work and press the shiny saw plate to my fingers. Lift the weight of the saw off the wood and push lightly forward to start the cut. Release the weight of the saw while releasing my unconsciously held breath and the saw begins to cut eagerly. With each stroke I relax my grip on the saw further and the tension of the day eases from my neck and shoulders. The waste of the miter falls away and I take a moment to bask in the glory of a finely sharpened saw and the fine ribbons of wood created with a rip cut saw.

Whack, and the hold fast releases it’s grip on the Ash. I move the piece to the bench top and set it atop another scrap of wood, positioning the freshly sawn edge so that it slightly overhangs the scrap. Turning my block plane on it’s side, I begin to shoot the edge and within a few strokes I have a polished, flat edge that gleams like only planed end grain can do.

My work is done, but not yet prepared to release myself from my meditation, I lean the block plane over towards the work piece and begin to chamfer the mitered edge to give it a little more style. I revel in the minuscule adjustments needed to create an even chamfer on all three sides at the end of the guide and watch the light bouncing off the faceted face until the angles match all the way around.

My wife’s voice breaks my reverie, it is time to go. I put down my block plane and walk away from the bench, not sad to go, but satisfied with work well done. I look over my shoulder one last time before I switch off the lights and smile. “See you next time” I say and walk out refreshed and ready to face whatever comes my way.

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