I wasn’t working and I thought, on a whim, I would take a woodshop class at the local college. Try something different. On the first day we were in the woodshop and going over each machine. I was standing at the back of the crowd as the teacher was speaking about the important features of the machine. I quickly came to the conclusion that this was an easy place to lose a finger. The blades were making their screeching noise and it was giving me a head ache. The teacher moved onto the next machine and I realized I knew nothing about the other machine he had been talking about. I think he called it a ‘table saw.’ It looked like a big ping pong table and at one end was a whirring circular blade that was slicing two inch boards with no problem. I do remember him saying, “Never get your hand to within fourteen inches of the blade.”
Everything we looked at you could lose some part of your hand. I think, given the right circumstances, I could probably have turned on the sander too fast and ground down a thumb. Next was the measuring tape. Nothings in inches or feet, it’s all in sixteenth of an inch or thirty-second of an inch. I would probably have had trouble with twelve inch increments but these sixteenths were beyond me. I know the math people are rolling their eyes but I haven’t been in school for twenty years and I forgot a lot of stuff. Plus I never took woodshop in high school anyway!
So I did what I normally do under these circumstances I just started to ask questions. But first I had to pick a project. I did a great cutting board but for real wood working people like myself a cutting board just doesn’t…cut it. Sorry, couldn’t resist. I found the coolest little wooden business card holder. It was beautiful. I even got an exotic wood for part of it. It was made up of two types of wood plus a little metal hinge. Now all of this stuff was tiny so I was going to be using this huge table saw to cut out this tiny piece of wood. Even the Engineer guy who tried to help me couldn’t do it. The teacher couldn’t do it for a long time then he came up with a solution.
I didn’t just have enough wood cutouts for one business card holder, but thirty. Do it big if you’re going to do it at all. I was meticulously trying to sand down the pieces so they were extremely thin. Suddenly the semester was over and I wasn't finished. I diligently collected all the small wood pieces, put them in baggies and labeled them so when I got back to woodshop I could finish. I was actually pretty close to being finished. I had most of the parts. Other parts did need a little touchup but I’m sure I could get someone to help me there. I had the brass wire for the eventual hinge. I had it all and it was in my closet next to my official wood cutter’s apron, with the special pockets. And wood glue too. It has all been in my closet now for two years.
My dad has the cutting board and he uses it almost every day.