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Ideas Worth Contemplating

As we are thick in the silly season of politics wherein we are presumably going to witness a contest between two loathsome and cartoonish figures, it is worth reflecting seriously on the document encapsulating the ideas that founded the greatest nation ever known to man (the US Constitution WAS NOT a founding document for the nation, it merely established the rules for its governance [admittedly now generally unknown and ignored] which is not the same thing).   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 like reading the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament; more up-to-date regarding the human condition than tomorrow’s headlines.


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

Column 4
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
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
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

Tuning Up The Planing Beam and Faux Studley Workbench

I’m in the midst of a project with lots of hand planing (the client requested a small writing desk reflecting the style and technology of 2nd quarter 19th century) so I spent a little time upgrading both the planing beam and the faux Studley workbench.

My main issue with the planing beam was that the flat head screws I had installed as the planing stops were inadequate for the job.  Even though they were #14 screws, they were modern #14 screws so they bent under hard use, rendering them useless as retractable pins.  In exasperation I got them out and threw them across the room into the trash where they belonged.  For a while I just clamped a piece of scrap stock on the end, which worked for some things but was in the way for others.

I decided to come up with a permanent and robust solution.


My intention was to make a rising stop that was housed on the end of the beam.  A great idea and easy enough to do.  Being lazy I found an even easier method than I had thought initially.  Since I seem to be genetically incapable of throwing stuff out, when I was puttering around up on the fourth floor looking for some wood to use for the shelf underneath the Roubo bench I was making, I did indeed find two boxes of tongue-and-groove flooring scraps left over from creating the floor of the classroom.  Scraps too small to use for anything.  Not only did I have enough for a open slat shelf under the new workbench, but another couple of pieces were perfect for the new planing stop.

I made three 10″ pieces of the tongue-and-groove, glued two of them together and ripped one in half.  These became the sliding stop and the shouldered housing.  I held them against the end of the planing beam, affixed the shoulders with screws to the end of the beam and was making shavings seconds later.  I must’ve taken almost six or seven minutes of my time to get it done.

For this desk project I had to prepare some mahogany boards that were about 18″ wide so the planing beam was not the workplace of choice for getting them done.  But, it was a perfect application for the broad expanse of the Studley slab I made last year.  The only thing missing was an end vise and some bench dogs, so that was the task of the hour.



I mounted the Sheldon vise at the end location, but was hampered by the fact that the Sheldon was so small it did not come close to the top of the bench.  (I was not confident the Sheldon would serve my needs so am resistant to the notion of excavating the underside of the slab until I know for sure.)


Even with the sliding dog in the fully extended position it only came proud of the top by about 1/32″, certainly not enough to work.


So I made a new dog out of some anonymous tropical hardwood I had in the scrap bin, and made it so that it was even with the top when fully retracted and almost 3/4″ proud when fully extended.


To pair with the new sliding vise dog I took my 3/4″ holdfast boring jig and drilled a series of six holes into which 3/4″ oak dowels were inserted.  Works like a dream, but I am still not sure the Sheldon is up to snuff as the permanent solution.  I’m still holding out for a piano-maker’s end vise, even if I have to make it myself.  But that won’t be happening any time soon.


So for now my faux Studley workbench is fully functional and in heavy and fairly constant use, and the planing beam remains one of my favorite work stations.

Roubo Workbench Prototype Finis




With the bench up on its feet I reached for my favorite Japanese timber frame joint saw and trimmed off the tops of the legs that were projecting through the bench slab.



I added wedges to the voids alongside the leg tenons (definitely need to avoid using my chop saw for fabricating the mortise lamina in the future) and even with no glue the joint was tight and the bench devoid of wiggle.  We’ll see if I need to wick in some adhesive after a few seasonal cycles.


With my 10″ circular saw I trimmed the ends, leaving about 3/32″ to finish the cut.


A slat shelf mounted to the stretchers and a quick session with a toothing plane wrapped up the construction.  When I get the time I will add the crochet and drill the holes for the holdfasts, but for now the core bench is done.