Fair Woodworking

September 30, 2012

Why write a blog part 2

Filed under: Fair Woodworking & Hand Tool Blog,Strong opinion warning! — fairwoodworking @ 10:47 am

What you are about to read will offend some people. It is however my opinion, based on sincere, sober self reflection. I’m not trying to offend anyone, but I was asked a question, and this is the best answer I can give to a delicate topic that we all will face one day in some form.

When I was just a little guy, I noticed that my grandpa’s hands were different from most others I’d seen. He was missing several fingers on both hands. Long before I’d come along, he worked at an old school saw mill where he had a number of incidents resulting in the loss of fingers. In my earliest memory’s he drove a logging truck, so I’ve got to think that he made the choice to get out of the sawmill game while he could still count to six.

I don’t know if it was difficult for him to leave the sawmill, but I do remember one thing that he did struggle with in letting go.

As a trucker, I remember that he took great pride in his ability to deliver his fares safely and on time. He was a well respected man in the trucking community, and driving was as natural as breathing, but in retirement, as he got older, his ability to drive safely slowly dissolved. Near the end, he became not only a danger to himself, but also a danger to other motorists, and pedestrians. How do you tell a former King of the Road, that he was no longer safe behind the wheel?
Well the problem was that you could tell him all you wanted, but he didn’t want to listen. It was a hardship for a number of years as family members struggled to get the car keys out of grandpa’s hands. Years that could have been enjoyed were lost to arguments, and hurt feelings.


Because Grandpa didn’t make the choice to accept the reality that life is full of changes. We’ve all seen that car ahead, signal light flashing right for the last 12 blocks, doing half the speed limit, and gently swerving from side to side. We’ve all had the same thought, “the driver is either drunk or really old”, but how many of us have made the choice NOT to one day, be “that guy”? How many of us have determined to voluntarily stop driving BEFORE  we become dangerous? I know Grandpa didn’t.

A couple of months ago, a new reader posed this question to me in response to my post called “Why write a blog?“.

“Would you be able to post your thoughts on woodworking if you have had a stroke and can’t use one side. I’ve found some ideas, such as using feather boards, but would like to learn more. I don’t like the idea of settling for pictures of other people’s work (though inspiration is always good). I’d like to know about real life approaches to CONTINUING the work, despite the circumstances. Anything would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.”

I was a little surprised by such a request as it’s really not an area of expertise, so I did a little snooping. After checking what search terms were linked to my blog site, it seems the reader found my site by searching “woodworking shop stroke victim”.  Again, I was not expecting that kind of connection so I decided to do the same web search.

Other than my little post, I didn’t really find anything other than a lot of unrelated information. I’m sure that there is information out there, but I couldn’t find it…

So back again I face the question alone. I’ve struggled with this question for the past two months. I’ve sincerely pondered, sympathetic to the hardships I know stroke victims face, and the more I think about it, the more I feel I’ve already given my opinion in the original post.

For me, woodworking is a hobby I will do while I can. I will make the most of it, and enjoy the good times it brings. My wood shop is like an old friend, that I know life and also death will one day pull us apart. I can’t stop that, and so I must not lament it either.

I know that many will feel differently about this, but if I lost the use of one of my hands, I would have lost the biggest part of woodworking that I enjoy. I have no idea how you could work around both holding a chisel, and swinging the mallet. I’m sure there is a workaround solution to the issue of how to hold a piece of wood in  a vice while you tighten it, but that kind of work would simply drive me crazy. I don’t want my last days as a woodworker to be anything but fun, and I don’t believe that any such workarounds provide the level of safety that I expect in a work shop.

The real question for me is, what can I do now to make my later years, when I can’t use my tools, more enjoyable.

For starters, like I said in the original post, I can write a blog so that I can relive my younger days, but there is more that we can do. We can find others to mentor. Find others that you can share your craft with, and enjoy the work that they are doing. I know I am Mr. Antisocial, but I still need to share what I’ve learned with real face to face people. I also don’t want to settle for looking at pictures of work done by others that I don’t even know, but there is value in watching people that we know and care about as they build. To watch and know that the skills they possess, are in some way a result from the sharing of your craft? I could live with that.

I’m still looking for people in my town to share my hobby with. Most people, even woodworkers, look at my shop full of hand tools, and smile awkwardly, but I’m going to keep looking.

I know this post really solves nothing pertaining to the question posed. I wish it did, and for that I am truly sorry.


1 Comment

  1. One thing that writing does for me is that it forces me to think about the subject. Writing forces me to figure out what I really mean and what I really believe. Written, published words are more concrete than the quick oral explanation. It needs to be clear and concise and I will do research when required to ensure that it is accurate.

    I learn a lot by reading, I practice in my work, and I solidify my stance in writing. Or something like that.


    Comment by ChrisHasFlair — September 30, 2012 @ 10:49 pm

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