Musings

We Hold These Truths… (needed now more than ever)

Some version of this post is presented annually at this time – DCW

As our nation seemingly is intent on tearing itself apart we would be well-served to reflect seriously on the document encapsulating the mission statement for the greatest nation ever known to man (the US Constitution WAS NOT the founding document for the nation, I believe it merely established the rules for its governance [admittedly now generally unknown and ignored] which is not the same thing).   I am unabashedly proud to be a partisan in the cause of Life, Liberty, and Property (the original wording) and find The Declaration to be the most noble document ever created by mankind.  I pray you will read and reflect on the ideas expressed by men who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to pursue the path of liberty.  Reading it is much like reading the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament; more up-to-date regarding the human condition than tomorrow’s headlines.

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IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
Massachusetts:
John Hancock
Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

And, They’re Off!

Actually it’s just me and my sticks and my video studio Roubo bench and my friend Kevin’s ultrawide angle GoPro Hero 4 set up as a time-lapse camera, all of us working together as together we embark on the Great Gragg Chair Challenge.  Originally my rough plan was to work non-stop for a week to see if I could get a Gragg elastic arm chair built in that time.  It was a preposterously optimistic endeavor, not the building of a chair in 40 hours but the notion that I could get five consecutive full days to complete the task.  Silly me.  Instead I will just have to keep track of my time and note when it ends how long it took.  If it works out, I’ll schedule a “Make A Gragg Chair” workshop for next summer.

Workbench Wednesday – Cypress Planing Board I

Photo courtesy of William Duffield

In great part thanks to my friend WilliamD’s demonstration of his mini-workbench at an SAPFM Chapter meeting in Fredericksburg VA several years ago, and more recently Youtuber Adrian Preda’s video on making his bench top planing board, I’ve been motivation to build a bench-top mini-bench type accessory or three.

For decades I used a pair of Japanese-style mini-sawhorses and a small torsion box for the purpose of raising the working surface to be most amenable to my creaky 65-year-old back and failing eyes.  Finally I was able to carve out a little time to work on a first version of this tool.  This was a very simple planing board, I will make my version of WilliamD’s much more complex tool once I get this one done.

Preda’s approach to making his board was not one I chose, but the configuration and some of the features he integrated were absolutely inspiring to me in moving this project to the top of the pile.

Looking through my pile of wood scraps I settled on gluing up a two-piece top slab of cypress, dimensioned to a slightly full 8/4.  I prepped the two pieces and glued them together with PVA into a 12-1/2″ x 2-1/8″ x 37″ slab and set it aside for a couple weeks until I could get back to it.  A couple weeks turned into six months.  Sigh.  Even though I had  interruptions by more urgent items I never stopped thinking about this mini-bench and how it could enhance my work.

Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Well, maybe a concrete block rather than an actual rock.

While recently at our daughter’s house I had a trimwork task that required a nice wide, razor-sharp chisel.  Unfortunately the only  wide chisel I had was this Stanley one I bought from Big Blue for some demo work, and the dentated beveled edge confirms that usage.  (This picture was after a minute of working on it, so it was a lot worse when I started out)  Were I back in the mountains I would have had no trouble rehabilitating the edge but at that house I only had a fairly fine sharpening stone.  So, I remembered a legend from my early days in the trade, when Pop Schindler had to re-cut some joinery while on-site for a project and simply picked a screwdriver from the installation tool kit and sharpened it on the curb to make it into a chisel.

I had the advantage of starting with a chisel, albeit a really beat-up one.  Instead of the curb I  carried a concrete block into the basement workshop and started working on the edge.

This picture was after about three minutes; after another three or four minutes with the concrete block I had re-established the bevel edge.  I did take another few seconds to flatten the back.  Like I said, it was a demolition chisel before this.

Another minute or two on the water stones and I was up the stairs to trim the door.  The chisel notched the vintage cherry trim like it was a hot knife going through butter.  My only hurdle was the contortions required to get the tool in the right place to work.

Greatest Logo Ever?

For my palate ultra-dark chocolate transcends mere food or the nutrition pyramid.  It  is my own version of the mindset often attributed to Ben Franklin, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”  (I am not of this inclination as I find beer unconsumable.  Ditto wine, which tastes like the aftertaste of siphoning gas out of the fuel tank.  But mead and rye whisky, those are different subjects altogether.)  A great bitter dark chocolate is something to be savored and remembered.

And milk chocolate?  A waste of both milk and chocolate.  When I bite into chocolate I want it to bite back.

When Barndottir2 got married and moved to North Kor–, er, Northern California we discovered the chocolatery run by her new friends, the Dick Taylor company in Eureka CA.  We even went on a factory tour with one of the owners, I forget whether it was Mr. Dick or Mr. Taylor, who was as passionate about his product as we compulsive woodworkers are about a beautifully figured piece of (fill in the blank).

Recently Barndottir2 sent me a hat with the coolest logo ever.  The sight of long curls of chocolate shavings erupting from the bench plane practically makes my mouth water.  I now have to balance wearing this  cap with my desire for making it last as long as possible.  If they ever make t-shirts or sweatshirts, put me down for a bunch.

Quality, Quantity, and Durability

I’m not sure how many of you fully appreciate the remarkable effort of Ralph Boumenot over at The Accidental Woodworker to produce a daily blog for over ten years!  He celebrated that milestone on June 16 and has produced a meaty blog post for 3,667 days in a row.  That’s roughly 50% longer than Cal Ripken’s streak.

I pat myself on the back if I can get three postings a week, at this point I am only 2300 behind Ralph.

Although he engages in a wide variety of projects in his basement shop Ralph is rightly renowned throughout the woodworking blogosphere for his tutorials on tool restoration.  I know I consult his archive whenever I encounter a similar problem, and invariably steer others in that direction whenever I am asked.

Congratulations Ralph, you are an inspiration and role model for us all.

Finishing The Octagon Window

 

With the basic octagon frame glued and toenailed together I systematically added the inner jamb for the screen and the outer jamb for the tilting window.  I moved on to the tilting window frame itself, different only from the unit frame in the orientation of the individual pieces and the cutting of the glazing rebate before assembling everything.  None of this was particularly difficult, just some of it was a little fussy.  Again the joints were butt miters with waterproof glue and toenailed with my pneumatic pin nailer.

Once I made sure the pieces fit together it was time to add the fascia and start the finishing.

To make sure the window unit was the longest lasting unit I could make I used the old-growth cypress throughout the entire project.  That alone should add decades.  On top of that every surface had several coatings of finish.  The outside surfaces received two coats of primer followed by three coats of acrylic latex enamel.  The inner surfaces had three coats of oil-resin varnish applied to them.  Oddly enough I must not have thought that the ready-to-install window was worthy of a picture as I did not take one of everything all put together, painted and varnished.

With all the pieces now assembled it was ready to be installed in its new home.  The three layers of weatherproofing the original hole in the master bathroom performed well, I am happy to say.  I peeled all that off and hoisted the new window on my shoulder and carefully climbed the ladder fervently praying that the fit was good.  It was.  All it took to install the window was to get the orientation exact and pound it home with a few gently taps from the heel of my fist.  A wave of relief washed over me as I did not have to adjust anything.

Now came the truly time consuming part of the project, weaving in the new shingles around the window and the roof fascia.  The roof fascia was not removable since the new roof and drip edge were securely fastened to it.

Workbench Wednesday – The Under-bench Bench

In recent years a mini-bench accessory for the top of a workbench has been all the rage.  There are probably more than a dozen featured in Youtube.  I’ve built some myself and will start blogging about them next Wednesday, but what about an “under the bench mini-bench?”

A lot of my work when moving down the path of fauxrushi involves small object finishing that is very particular and time consuming,  Combining the fussiness of the work with my gimpy knee my preference is to sit down as much as possible.  Unfortunately the incompatibility of any of my shop stools with the height of my finishing bench, it was my first Roubo bench, I came up with the idea for a lower workbench like I see frequently in the Youtube videos about urushi work.  To serve my needs in this aspect of work I made a pull-out work surface to slide under the top of that Roubo bench.  This sliding mini-workbench is a 24″ x 48″ piece of 3/4″ hardwood plywood from Lowes, and it simply rides on a pair of runners screwed to the legs.  I added sides to the mini-workbench accessory and a full length cleat in the front so it is extremely rigid.  The result is a surprisingly sturdy and spacious platform for me to work away.

Resuming Gragg

It’s been many moons since Chris and I were able to schedule some time together in the video studio as he has been overwhelmingly busy with a new full-time job, a new old house that needed a lot of work, and a new baby that was born last month in the back seat of the car while on the way to the birthing center.  Plus, we’ve all been under house arrest for over three months so there is that disruption.  At least my travel schedule has been light; eleven of my eleven teaching/lecturing commitments for the year were cancelled.

But we are back to planning some video next month, and in the mean time I am trying to wrap up chair #2 to get it delivered to a phenomenally patient client.  In order to capture the final piece of the video we need I will actually start another chair and get it to that point of the filming.  And, I have penciled in the week after next for my pedal-to-the-medal exercise in building a chair in five days to see if I can schedule a workshop on that project for next year.  If that works out and the pandemic has run its course I might offer a Gragg Chair and a ripple molding machine workshop for next summer.

Stay tuned.

Ripplemania III

Last month my friend Ripplin’ John and I spent a week in the barn working on and brainstorming about our respective ripple molding machines, trying to get a model ready for the show-n-tell of Handworks 2020 (this is before we knew Handworks 2020 was being postponed by the Wuhan Virus).  I had made a little progress on my machine since Ripplemania II but he had made great strides with his.  During the week his main emphasis was on the lateral “wave” cutting function of his elegant machine while I was simply trying to get my newly designed cutting head to work properly.

Prior to our most recent week together I had also been working on the notion of improving the method and form of the ripple patterns themselves.  I tried a number of different methods and jigs but wound up realizing that precision layout and careful workmanship was the key to producing a crisp, precise concave pattern.  Throughout our week we discussed this issue and I am now thinking that concave is not the way to move forward, convex patterns may be the future.

As John was assembling his machine, a fairly lengthy process since it was totally disassembled to fit into hi vehicle, I was puttering on mine.

My new cutterhead  was now configured with the cutter being positioned at the end of a long weighted swing arm rather than inside a spring-loaded modulating frame structure.

I reasoned that the swing arm was a simpler approach and determined to give it a try.  Unlike John I narrowed the scope of my machine to do only one thing, namely cut ripple moldings of approximate 1-1/2″ stock width and 1/2″ thickness.  No wider, no thicker.  Thus my machine structure was much more restricted than his with approximately zero adaptability.

John had been working on two important evolutionary steps.  First, the machine could cut but ripple moldings and wave moldings within the same overall machine structure.  Second, that the machine could be mechanized and automated thus making it a more practical device for producing large quantities of moldings.  As he recited a truth to me, “Turning the platen drive handle gets old after a surprisingly short time!”

I’ll let you know how we progressed next time.