Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Shopping for Crap

Apparently, forty-five is the age that I’m finally being honest with myself. Not about my fitness level or body fat percentage, obviously. (I’m still in amazing shape and have the body of a teenager.)

At the age of forty-five - which could possibly be mid-life if I beat the odds on fitness level and body fat percentage - I am finally being honest with myself about woodworking.

My dad is a woodworker. A long time ago he bought me a really big worm-drive Skilsaw and then taught me the cool carpenters’ trick of holding a 2x4 off the ground on the top of your foot and cutting it in half right next to your leg one-handed.

He also gave me his huge radial arm saw when he was beginning to pare down his garage. If you ever need to cut something big in half - like a structural beam, or a bison - I recommend a radial arm saw. I used it exactly one time to launch a section of plywood like a Stinger missile across my garage and into the sheetrock on the back wall. Literally, six inches into the sheetrock.

In hindsight, my dad may be trying to get rid of me for some reason...

My grandfather was a woodworker, also. He had a shop full of power tools, and when he died, I inherited quite a few of them. Suddenly, my garage magically transformed into a woodshop. I was excited. I was minutes away from producing fine cabinetry, elegant porch swings, cribs, rocking horses – you name it!

I had a band saw, a drill press, a table saw, a small Skilsaw, a big worm-drive Skilsaw, a router, a nail gun, and a power sander. Not to mention a radial arm saw that I was terrified to turn on.

I had enough power tools to build anything at all. The world was my oyster.

Do you know what the first thing I made was? I built a huge workbench for my garage, so that when I did all the amazing woodworking projects, I would have a big bench to work on.

In the last fifteen years, I have not done a single other woodworking project with any of my shop tools.

Why? I think a big part of the reason is that while I inherited a lot of tools, I did not inherit any of the woodworking skills to go with them. And then there’s the boys. Looking around my garage a few weeks ago I noticed something that made me take stock of the situation. Every flat surface on every large power tool was covered with crap. Just tons and tons of crap. Who did all the crap belong to? The boys.

There was not a single square inch of the top of my nearly two-acre workbench that I could actually see. It was just a vast ocean of crap, all belonging to the boys.

I stood there, surveying the scene, marveling at our family’s ability to hoard crap, when it hit me. If I have less flat surfaces, there will be less room for crap. And then I took stock of my woodworking future and came to terms with it. It’s simply not going to happen.

A few days after my moment of self-honesty, we had a garage sale, and I priced my power tools so that no man with a pulse could walk past them without throwing money at me instantly. We sold everything in fifteen minutes. The massive table saw was bought by a guy in a Honda Civic. He spent an hour on our driveway disassembling it so he could get it home.

I was happy to help those guys out. And I’m thrilled for their families. Now they have more flat spaces to store their crap.

As for my garage, well… It looks a little more open, but there’s still no room to walk around. Now all the crap is on the floor.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2017 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. Ben, sounds like you wrote this! Ha! you're not the only one who inherited a bunch of tools!! Now please be like Marc...SELL it ALL! :)