I was chopping up some firewood when my 12 y.o. son asked for a piece of
wood "to play with" - "sure, np". Off he goes to the shop and pulls out the
Disston 7 tpi crosscut, clamps the log in the vice and proceeds to do a rip
cut down the 10-12" length of it. At this point I am restraining myself and
think "take thyself inside", which I do.
Watching through the kitchen window, I see him cut four roughly square sides
then stop, seemingly unsure of what to do next. By now, unable to restrain
myself, I rush out and grab the highly polished and scary-sharp #4 bailey.
He looks daunted now, the shiny plane is one of dad's prize possessions -
and he knows it. I explain how to use it, "go with the force young Doug" I
say, and he does. Little wispy trails begin to appear and I watch his
confidence build. Firmer strokes, long sweeping strokes that produced nice
even shavings; here I go back inside to watch again.
He now has a sweat up and is still experimenting with the plane, adjusting
the depth of cut here, trying against the grain there, getting the thinnest
possible shavings and feeding them to shop-dog. He bevels all the sides at
45 deg then flattens the block again, stopping to go inside the shop and get
a square to test his work. This continues until he's left with a 3/4 inch
dowel that is hard to clamp in the vice. What a way to spend an hour, just
I saw his first steps as a baby, but I think most parents could have
described that feeling to me and I would have understood what they meant.
It's a much more select audience that could describe, or understand, the
feeling of watching their child get 'hooked' on a hobby that gives them
pleasure too. That look of being totally absorbed while he planed, up to his
knees in curlies, will be a moment I won't forget in a hurry, and it's nice
to know he appreciates the hand tools - not just the pow-whirrr tailed
When I put away the plane later on I noticed a few scratches from the vice
where he'd obviously got a bit closer than intended. Normally this would not
be a good thing, but today I figure it's better than having a photograph. My
tool now has an indelible memory of a special moment of my son's life
engraved into it, something I will recall each time I use it and look at the
Most of my tools tell a story of some kind, from a dark bloodstain on a
chisel, to missing chunks in my workbench. These scratches will now have a
special meaning to me, able to be "read" only by me, a photo would not
convey the full memory like the scratches will - does this make sense?
We need moments like this, every now and again, to make the world right.