Displaying items by tag: elderly

    Sunday, 10 March 2019 10:41

    Discussions with an older woodworker.

    I went to an "artists and/or craftspeople cooperative" today. As you'd expect, the inside was adorned with pottery, sculptures, cards, metal and wood pieces, some mosaics, as well as the ever-present paintings found in places like this. Two people were looking after the store for the "morning shift", a woman whose name has completely escaped me (sorry) doing some knitting, and somewhat unusually, a man named Ted who was spinning wool.

    While Wren was busy elsewhere, I decided to sit down and chat with Ted as he spun his wool. Ted was many things, not just a wool spinner, but a carpenter who made and restored spinning wheels. He also made some lovely small turned wooden items found in the store. We chatted on many topics, but the discussion on wood working was particularly interesting.

    As a relatively new wood worker, (a novice in comparison to Ted who has decade(s) on me, and likely, a more spacious and efficient workshop than I do, living on a farm) he made some really interesting comments on the way wood working has gone in his time. We discussed the quality of wood, which unless you have your own forest and milling equipment, has decreased significantly over the last 50 years. Fast-growth plantation based timbers, disposable wood-based products, logging of old forests, and a global population growing out of proportion to the supply of timber, means we're using lower and lower grades of wood (and many other resources) as they become increasingly scarce.

    Now, I'm proud of my tea shelf made with pallet wood. However, when I showed Ted a photo of it on my phone, he pointed out the flaws in my spotty pine panels, and explained how that is a sign of low quality wood. Thinking on how wide-spread pallets are, and the ever-shortening life expectancy of modern pallets, I can't help but wonder about the future of pallets and wood in general.

    Later, I pondered another comment made by a former antique store owner to me several months ago,  that "you can't sell old furniture for love or money, since younger generations with massive mortgages, and ever smaller dwellings aren't exactly rushing off for a bit of "antiquing". As a person still in their "accumulation phase" of life, I can safely say that I see a lot of antique shops which are starting to include all sorts of paraphernalia, dust collectors, and even electrical appliances of bygone eras as less "antique", and more "hoarder dens of stuff your grandparents chucked out when they downsized". I'm sure the "hipsters" love it, but they're perhaps the only ones taking advantage of this situation.

    Antique furniture restoration is another topic Ted and I discussed. He recalled his difficulties when to restore a spinning wheel made in the 19th century in the US from wood that had beautiful grains, burls, and natural beauty that is so rare or prohibitively expensive, it might as well be completely unavailable today. Going further, Ted said:

    "The only way I can restore it is to completely hide my repairs as best as I can". Now, that left me wondering: "How on Earth do you hide a repair on a spinning wheel? They're not exactly known for their "nooks and crannies" to hide stuff in. It's a peddle, a spoke wheel, a spindle, and a stand! With so many moving parts, there isn't really much room for "hiding it in an obscure place" like many stain instructions tell you to do when first trying it out. I'm sure modern stains are great, but they simply cannot do the complexity of high quality timber, no matter how you slice it.

    Frankly, I didn't get a chance to discuss everything, but it's rare for someone like me to be able to chat and see things from a much better wood worker's perspective. I'm just trying to do what I can, and I'm sure I'll make a lot of mistakes along the way. At least I've got some ideas on how to identify some nicer timber. Thanks Ted!

    To everyone else, good night and keep doing whatever it is you need to do to have fun, stay safe, and make something awesome.




    Published in Wood Working
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