Hand tool workout
As I have gotten older, my doctor gets more and more persistent in telling me to get more exercise. I guess that’s normal. However, I pretty much hate conventional exercise. It has always seemed like the most pointless use of time and energy on the planet to me, so it has been a challenge to find something I would actually do consistently. But recently I have had a minor epiphany. Why not figure more exercise into something I already love to do?
For years I have been the type that believed their was no sense in doing something by hand that could be done better and faster with machines that I already own. And when it came to squaring and rough dimensioning stock that went double. Because it always seemed to take forever to do those things by hand. Plus the psychological stress of having my table saw standing next to me mocking me the whole time.
But recently I have salvaged some old rough sawn 2x stock that seemed like nice old slow grown fir so I thought I would go after these by hand. What I found was that I really got a respectable workout just by taking one 4 foot section and bringing it down to a tried and true state. It was then I had my moment. I thought, hey I hate working out but this was fun. It was a challenge to take each unique piece and deal with it’s particular issues (including one of them that had a broken off screw tip buried in it) and making a really nice usable piece of lumber out of it.
I have used salvaged wood all my life, and have learned to really love it. My father taught me this when I was young on the farm. We did not throw anything away until it had proven itself to be truly useless, everything, especially building supplies were salvaged and recycled. We did not tear down old sheds we disassembled them. As a kid, I did not appreciate the wisdom in this style of living, but over the years it has become a part of who I am as well. But up till now the heavy lifting was done by machines as much as possible. No more, now salvage has become a twofer. Free wood and a great workout.
A side benefit of this and one I did not really expect was that through repetition you can get much faster at truing up stock. And much of the painstaking work with winding sticks and gauges is replaced by feel and eye. There is also an art to choosing a strategy for flattening and straightening a piece that develops with time. These challenges have turned a job that I have always hated into an interesting exercise of mind and body.
In the end, I get some nice wood for free. A good workout for my upper body. Hand and eye skills that help me in every aspect of my work. And an impressive pile of really nice shavings. (I am amazed at how many people comment on the shavings, when they enter my shop).
So for the future I think this is going to be my workout regimen. It is quiet with no machines running. The air is not filled with dust. And when I am done not only do I have a nice stack of free wood to work with, but I know every inch of every one of those boards when it comes time to make something with them.
For this stack I had two ideas from my longstanding ToDo list. My first thought when I felt how heavy and dense two of these pieces were, was to use them as chops for a Moxon vise. But after a closer examination of the whole stack, I think I will wait for the right two pieces of true hardwood to come along and use this stack to build a variation on some of the nicer split top saw benches I have been seeing around the internet lately.
I will very likely post a report on this saw bench when I get it finished. So, it looks like there will be more fun to come for this stack of dumpster gold.
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