We Asked and You Answered

We Asked and You Answered

1. Has your time in the shop increased, decreased, or remained constant through the last few months?

Three succinct woodworkers answered three different ways – the same amount of time (less time) – and more time. But a longer response revealed that recent events – increases in energy costs, water, gasoline, a confusing presidential election, and lastly 9/11/01 – had motivated one woodworker and his family to plan on emigrating to Australia. Sure he’ll have to replace all his power tools – different voltages, mate – but the favorable exchange rate offers a great deal on a custom home and shop ? with oceanfront views ? plus it’s a friendly place and it’ll be fun buying new tools and discovering new kinds of wood. Fair dinkum! Also linked to September 11, no less than an Assistant United States Attorney commented that his woodworking has decreased. While, before, he could squeeze in a few hours on weekends, now every spare moment is spent chasing would-be terrorists, tracking down clowns that think it is cute to send baby powder in an envelope, and prosecuting nimrods who mistake a plane’s cockpit for their personal playroom. The brand new Clifton hand plane he’d received on September 10 still sits in its box and the closest he gets to woodworking is reading articles in our eZine. Thanks for all your hard work! Back in a world of more everyday concerns, one woodworking retiree has increased his hours in the shop by installing a new gas furnace!

2. Are you building more stuff to save money … or simply because you love to work with wood?

The former, admitted one woodworker, who is building more jigs to save money. The latter, explained another woodworker who – having just finished building a router table in December – was currently buying supplies for a dust collection system and will soon start building a cabinet for a jointer (which has been sitting on his garage floor for five years). And none of these projects, he owned up, had saved him any money. Another correspondent admitted that, until we asked, it never occurred to him that woodworking could save him any money! He simply loved the hobby. To illustrate his point, he added up the cost of making a picture frame – hardwood: $57; glass: $44; finish: $9; hardware (clips and cable): $3.50; matting: $66 – compared to the cost of just buying one at Wal-Mart. Taking a similar tack, another woodworker illustrated the non-cost effectiveness of his hobby by adding up the real costs of recently building a telephone cabinet:

– $25 for wood
– $35 for band saw blades
– $125 for a metal detector that works
– $180 co-pay at the emergency room
– $28 for shellac and alcohol
– $30 for salvaged marble top
– $78 for more clamps
– $23 for router bit (due to old metal detector problem)
– $32 for new safety goggles
– $46 + tip for apology dinner to wife for scaring her with blood
– $35 for a dozen roses

But even after disclosing that the table he’d copied recently went on sale for $175, he admitted that the time spent in the shop was priceless and the effort put into everything he built was really to please his wife.

3. Will you be using at least part of your tax return on woodworking tools and supplies, or are you cautiously laying it aside until the economy decides where it’s going?

A couple of woodworkers confirmed that they would be spending their entire return — in one case $2,200 — on tools and wood. Another avowed that if he ever got a refund he might spend it on tools, but due to the “marriage penalty,” he wasn’t expecting it any time soon. One respondent looked deep into his own soul and admitted that his love of tools and anticipation for the UPS truck prevent him from even waiting for an income tax return, much less a better economy before buying. A thrifty woodworker suggested that wiser money management would preclude a refund, and allow one to instead invest the money and use proceeds to buy new tools!


Giving Cherry a Tan

To quickly darken cherry to the rich burgundy of older furniture, a woodworker suggested soaking it in a mixture of quick lime and water. (Since he didn’t provide a length of time for soaking, you’ll want to experiment on a piece of scrap wood. – Editor)

Other Reader Comments

The wife of a stroke victim shared a touching story of how her husband was pulled out of inactivity by building a birdhouse kit. He’d never been a handyman before, but now they work together. She designs, cuts, and makes the birdhouses and feeders. He stains, paints, and finishes, and is discovering a new pride in woodworking. They’re now enjoying a new Dremel scroll saw, looking forward to receiving a recently ordered router and table, and planning on getting a table saw. She passed along their thanks for the eZine and the help it’s been in his therapy.

The disposal of sawdust could be better accomplished through vermicomposting (or worm composting), advised a recent email. It’s odorless, easier, and a quicker way to make plant fertilizer than regular composting and ideal for the average-sized woodshop. The writer offered www.allthingsorganic.com as a place to find out more.

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