Monday, December 19, 2011

Grandpa was a Carpenter - Part 2

As mentioned in the first installment, my Dad had "some things I might want".  When I arrived at Dad's house we went out to get some dinner.  On arrival back at his house, we went into his shop to see the "things". Dad pulled out this box, which I immediately recognized, and he asked if I'd like to have it.  Without hesitation, I said, "hell yeah".

Grandpa sold his work truck and all the tools in it when he retired. He decided at the age of 73 it was getting a bit difficult to hold a 4 x 8 sheet of drywall against the ceiling with one hand and nail it up.  At six foot naught, I don't think the man ever weighed more than 175 pounds.  Wirey they called it, and strong as an Ox. Then, eventually, the strong gave out, and some years later, he passed as well.
I had his job site table saw for years. The original motor, circa 1940 or thereabouts, had crapped out. So I headed over to the new Graingers that had just opened up and found a replacement for 45 bucks. Grandpa had cobbled together a stand for that saw from job site scraps. I had that too.  That man could build the most beautiful cabinets with that wobbley ass setup. It was a good saw though. Craftsman.  Not the cheap cast aluminum Sears stuff you get these days.  This beast was cast iron and would compress your vertebrae when you lifted it off those decrepit crutches.  I digress. Back to the tool at hand.
Dad lovingly collected the moulding plane when Grandpa passed.  Almost 40 years ago, I opened up the box in Dad's garage, and, without the aid of Google, using only the single page paper instructions, assembled that plane.
As I opened the box in Dad's shop the other night, I found the instructions had gone the way of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Both my Dad and my Grandpa taught me how to use a block plane.  There is nothing more Zen than seeing perfectly thin slices of wood, translucent,  peeling out the top of the plane..knowing the blade is sharp and set  Shaping wood with a plane I find similar to paddling a kayak. You can hack at it as hard as you'd like with little more result than wasted energy.  Once you settle in and realize that it is only going to go so fast, miraculously you seem to go faster.  ( I find the same experience in wrenching as well. As long as it's not Sunday, and the sun isn't setting, and I have to drive this P.O.S. to work in the morning)  I usual.
My first attempt with the plane, many decades ago was less than successful. In my own defense, this tool came with 25 shaped blades that could be arranged in...hang on..let me do the math...25 ..without replacement..25x24x23...screw it...a whole bunch of combinations. Being male, I ascribed to the "more is better" maxim. In retrospect, I suspect I tried to use a combination of blades that was a wee bit too complicated.  My Grandpa might have been able to push those blades through the wood. My attempts came to a screeching halt.  The blades need some TLC. Time has taken it's toll. I still manged to nick a finger. (I'm good, Tetanus shot is current)

So, I have this piece of personal family history to play with now. No instructions for assembly anymore, only very vague memories from the last time I put it together.  This looks like a good Father son project.

(yes, that's one of Belle's targets underneath. I told ya, don't mess with the Zohan Belle)

Now that I think about it. I think I'll pull this box out on Christmas day when most of my brood is here.  My girls have an unusual mechanical acumen. It just never occurred to me to make them crawl the driveway with me to maintain the junkyard fleet like I did their brother. So, they are a bit behind the curve in shade tree training.

Need anything shaped? I have a new an old tool....

There's a tool box with a few more items. That's another post though.



  1. That is a very cool piece of family history there.

  2. Now you know how I feel about that old family stuff. That is an awesome gift. Being a cabinet man myself, the jealous meter is out the roof!


Comments are not moderated. Disagreement is fine as long as you address the message, not the messenger. In other words, don't be an ass.