Birthday Wishes, Woodworker Admiration and Removing Old Paint

After last issue’s eZine, which included questions in our Q&A section on true lumber sizes as well as removing old cabinet paint, we received responses from readers who wanted to share their own experiences in both of these areas. – Editor

“I was reading in your eZine a question from Ed Chiaverini about how to remove paint from old cabinets. I have had very good results using a product called Soy-Gel™. I refinished a more than 90-year-old dollhouse that my mother’s grandfather had made for her mother. My mother remembers the last coat of pain was applied by her father back in the forties. Knowing the paint contained lead, she didn’t want to give it to her granddaughters without updating the finish. With the Soy-Gel, the lead-based paint scraped off with a putty scraper while suspended in solution. It took it right down to the bare wood in most places, and a reapplication finished the job. The only dust I created was while touching up the wood when prepping it for painting. I was then able to dispose of the paint at our local disposal center as if it were a can of uncured lead paint. It even helped remove the old wallpaper affixed on the inside of the house and leftover globules of paint. It was very effective and something I plan to use again in the future.” – Carey Durgin

“I live in Chico, California. All the lumber in my local hardwood store is 13/16. They also have thicker lumber. When I lived in Northeast Ohio, I bought rough lumber and had it made to 13/16 also. That way, with glue-ups and sanding, most of the time you would not be less than 3/4. It is surprising how much stronger 13/16 is compared to 3/4.”” – Ken Smith

This reader wanted to share his appreciation for his favorite section of the eZine — and his admiration for fellow woodworkers. – Editor

“As much as I enjoy reading all the items in the eZine, I have to say that the section that blows me right out of the water every [issue] is the Reader’s Project Gallery. The skill, talent, vision and artistry displayed by these craftsmen is a true pleasure to see. I’m a VERY unskilled newbie to this kind of work. Based on my own small attempts at woodworking, I can only imagine the years of hard-won experience that went into the making of these creations. They make me want to try again when I’m ready to quit. Thank you for providing a place for these talented people to display their creations. Thank you to all the talented people for sharing their work.” – Tom Kiernan

Of course, the largest percentage of reader responses to last issue’s eZine were people commenting on Rob’s editorial in which he lamented about his qualms regarding his 57th birthday. Many readers were, shall we say, less than sympathetic. – Editor

“Better get out the cane and walker and get used to mush for food, ’cause you’re almost over the hill. Seriously, take time to enjoy your grandchildren, and do your woodworking as a hobby not as a job. Just think of all the time that you will have to do as you want when you retire. Have a bigger garden, spend time doing some of the things that you never had time before you got old. I’m almost 67 and I ride my bike between four and five thousand miles a year. I enjoy working in the garden and spend time in my shop when I decide that I want to do something in it. Mostly I make stuff for my children and my grandkids and if it’s not perfect, just say that grandpa made that. In the winter time, I have taken up making chocolates and other candies. Trust me, once you start making your own candies, you will never hunger for the stuff that they sell in the stores. Enjoy the blessings that you have and look forward to a new beginning when you finally retire.” – Jon Rouleau

“You sound like an old maid. To start with, you only have one birthday, and that’s over and done with. On Dec 11, you will be exactly 1 day older than you were on Dec 10th. Personally, I’m looking at 70 next May, and that’s really scary.” – Ralph Brearey

“I just read your column in the latest issue of Woodworker’s Journal eZine on my computer. To be honest, I usually just jump to the technical stuff, but I just found myself reading your remarks about getting old. Don’t worry about getting old. I have ties that are older than you. I am 83 years old. All my life I have been ‘making things.’ I guess being creative is part of me. Sure, we all think about getting old, but age is just a number. You have many miles to travel. I sometimes look at my neighbors and say to myself ‘what am I doing here with these old folks? Some of them are younger than me. You have lots of wood to work with before you call it quits. Running the Woodworker’s Journal is a great accomplishment. ands appreciated by all. You do a great job and service.” – Bernie Gutstadt

We also heard from those who wanted to pass on wisdom acquired by their advanced years (advanced beyond age 57, that is). – Editor

“Don’t panic. I know the feeling you may be experiencing and I can tell you, there’s good news. It doesn’t hurt and you won’t die. I know because I’m reaching my fourth score in just a matter of weeks. I still work wood in my shop, take photos with my DSLR Nikon and process them on my computer equipped with i7 processor and 64 bit OS. I also help my wife operate her fiber arts business. In other words, the world will still rotate on its axis, and you will, in all likelihood, continue to love life and keep up with the things you love to do. Now, it’s true, some things will change. For instance, there’s the moment of awakening when a lovely young lady holds a door for you with a chirpy, ‘After you, Sir.’

And then there’s the experience of wondering who the old man is that you find in your bathroom. But don’t worry, son. Everything will be alright if you just don’t get too uptight about your age.” – Don Butler

“On December 11, 1955, I had been enjoying woodworking for five years, especially using my Craftsman Jig Saw (big heavy cast-iron scroll saw to you kids). That was my power tool, and I was allowed to use my dad’s scary table saw if I was brave enough. Most of my work was done with hand tools which I am still using to this day. In other words, don’t worry if you’re adding another year. Woodworking is still fun no matter how old you are. You can look back at those wonderful woodworking projects when you’re my age (72) and your grandchildren will really marvel at the incredible job you did on creating those wonderful pieces. You are really lucky. You can drag out the old dusty magazines and show them your projects in Woodworker’s Journal. Hang on to those print copies; your grandchildren may not know what a real magazine is 15 years from now. I have acquired a lot of tools since 1955, but the old worn hand tools bring back a lot of great memories, especially the ones that were used by my dad. Some of my old power tools came from some great old guys in their 80s who retired from woodworking due to health problems. I plan to continue using woodworking tools for a long time to come, so don’t worry about reaching your relatively young age on December 11th.” – Ed Amsbury

“1) There will be many ahead of you for some long time to come. You are not anywhere close to the first to your milestone. 2) I can personally guarantee you there IS life after 57. And 58. And 60. And 65. 3) There are many that can guarantee higher. At risk of sounding like an old saw – how old do you FEEL? That is how old you REALLY are. When you are in your shop, do you feel like 25 – except maybe sometimes something inside you goes ‘creak!’? OK, maybe that was just an old beam in the roof! PRESS ON! Are you still having FUN? If yes, then that number on your driver’s license is just like the rest of them – a number. Have FUN and enjoy this life – it’s a gift. With luck, you will still be smiling when it comes that time – sometime in the far distant future.”- Bill Magee

“All my life I’ve approached the turn of a decade with trepidation – either with me wanting to be older, or with me dreading the day. When I hit 60, however (two years ago), I discovered I was actually starting to show and to feel my age: flat feet, wrinkles, loud cracking sounds when I move. What I have found is as I get older, uglier and weaker, my woodworking projects getter better looking and more sound. I’ve already made all the mistakes rookies make due to impatience, inexperience, cheap tools and lack of focus, and have learned from them. I told you last year about a drafting table I made for my son at Christmas; he still brags on it and he still uses it daily. The thing is, my friend, who cares about gray hairs as long as a guy keeps his tool sharp, his pressure up, and can maintain a wet edge!” – Phil Gilstrap, Lexington, Oklahoma

“I chuckled a bit reading your concerns about turning 60. Here’s my brief story: Just over three years ago, I awoke on my birthday thinking that I was 58 and only two years away from that dreaded number: 60! I was really depressed for most of that day until I realized that I was actually only 57! Whooo….sigh of relief. Well, 58, then 59 came and went: no depression. When 60 rolled around in March 2012, I had encouraged my wife to throw me a big party. I had a ball; everyone had a ball. Life is great! It may be fairly common to experience some sort of anxiety at 57. I would have to say, though, that 60 is the new 40, so don’t worry about it, OK?” – Ted W. Broussard

“Rob, I have already crossed the 57 threshold and am much closer to 60 than you are. My key to staying under the ‘new 40’ is to continue playing softball in a church league with 20-somethings. When I bought new spikes a couple of years ago, I vowed not to quit until the spikes wore out. Besides, the team will probably keep me around until I forget to ice down the beer some evening.” – Vince Granacher

And, we heard from several readers who share either Rob’s birthday (Dec. 11) or birth year. – Editor

“Happy birthday, Rob! I have December 11th circled on my calendar — but my birthday is Dec 11th, also. I was born in 1947, so that 1955 date would make a nice trade for me if you are interested. 57 does not look bad when 65 is here. In fact, I do not even remember 57. The good part is that I am healthy and having entirely too much fun in my shop to think about what I cannot control/” – Greg Little

“An excellent year indeed — I have a mere nine months on you. Whenever I start feeling sorry for myself, I watch recent footage of the Rolling Stones and, in particular, the soon-to-be-70 Mick Jagger. His gyrations and gymnastics remind me that, relatively speaking, we’re still kids! Happy birthday, Rob. Hope you’ll be editing in chiefdom for a long time to come.” – Tom Mercer

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