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September 22, 2009

New Catalog from Highland

cat.jpgDid you get your new catalog from Highland yet? Mine came last week and I love browsing this thing. I can spend hours and hours looking for just the right tool or thinking up a new phase for my woodworking efforts. Somebody at the store has spent years getting the descriptions written for all the tools and books and doo-dads included in this little woodworking classic. Shoot, half the time when someone asks me a question about woodworking tools or methods, I reply with answers from this book. And speaking of little, I really like the new size of the catalog reduced to 5 ½ by 10 ½ inches from the previous sizing, thereby leaving more trees for all of us to use in making new stuff.

My wife and I used to ask each other what gifts we wanted for special occasions since we finally figured out that surprise gifts more likely than not were a waste of money. For several years, my stock answer was "One of everything in the Highland Woodworking catalog." Though I was never able to swing that deal for real, the fantasy endures.

It's a long slow rainy afternoon in Atlanta, so I sat down and added up the price of one of everything in the catalog. I did add in a couple of hundred dollars of Spax screws because I love those things and use them all the time. I also managed to exclude duplicates of many things and if there was a boxed set, I passed on buying the individual pieces and included just the set. I also left out spare parts for repairing tools.

Before placing my order I intend to get by the store and pick one each of every woodworking book as long as we're talking fantasy here. (They didn't list their books in this edition of the catalog, but they list more than a thousand woodworking books on their website.)

My order came to $53,737.94, plus the books, tax and shipping. Of course, I will have to expand my shop to hold all this stuff and I estimate about forty grand would do that. Wonder if American Express means it when they say no preset credit limit? Maybe I can get a discount on the shipping.

Request a catalog online if you want a copy and they'll add you to the mailing list.

September 10, 2009

New Book?

Shoji Book.jpgARRGHHHH!!! (Did I spell that correctly? It's not in my spell check.) That's it; I'm finally going to do it!! I'm writing a book. I'm starting today and it should be published by next spring. People write books all the time on hide glue and planes and fireplace mantels and woodturning and Japanese screens and I am jealous of their success and I am determined to put my own ideas out there.

Why, you may ask, does this issue move to the top of the ever-present pile of things that must be done? I just spent a week with 249 other fine citizens building eight (count 'em, eight) houses in four and a half days. Whirlpool Corporation with Habitat sponsored a big build down in my town this year and I was able to participate. Volunteers came from all over the country and brought willing hearts and hands, but a range of skills from zero up to very skilled.

One thing I discovered (which is the genesis for my new book) is that many people do not know how to PULL A NAIL!! Now I grew up in the rural South and whatever other faults you may ascribe to that society, my father taught me early how to pull a nail out of a piece of wood. In fact, I debate whether he had to teach me - I don't remember but I think I was born knowing how to pull a nail. I figured since I knew how from early childhood and it was such a part of my upbringing, the rest of the world must know how to pull nails as well as I do. I mean, a plumb cut on a rafter tail is something you may not know from birth, but pull a nail, come on, people.

Last week I actually had someone in my crew who, when instructed to "pull that nail and start another one", did realize that the claw on the hammer was the correct instrument, thank goodness for that part. But for the next move--after hooking the nail with the claw this person (no gender assumptions here, please) began to pull on the handle straight back like you might pull on the rope in a tug of war. This, mind you while standing unsteadily fifteen feet up a ladder. As several of us on the ground moved to prevent a huge splat from a pending backwards dive, I knew instantly that additional instruction was needed, my birthright was not universal, and where have these people's parents been all their lives? That was when I decided I'm going to write a book called Nail Pulling 101. Maybe Highland can publish it for me. ;-)

Fireplace Mantels.jpg

Gracious goodness, after this, someone's going to tell me that people don't know about possum hunting and barbeque and milking a cow. Wonder if Highland would publish those books?