Maple Festival Second Weekend

This past weekend was the second of the two weekends for the annual Highland Maple Festival in remote and sparsely populated Highland County, Virginia.  I was especially delighted that my long time friend and woodworking pal TomS was going to join us for the weekend, demonstrating traditional woodworking in David Blanchard’s Main Street shop in Monterey, VA.

Sunrise on Saturday was not auspicious beginning to the day as the weather was gloomy and cold, and the wind was howling as it had been doing for the previous several days.  Temps in the 20s and 30s are not a problem for a tourism-based event, but when coupled with winds that were in the 30-50 mph range, things were not looking favorable for the day.  And then there were the increasingly alarming weather reports, which had originally been for a chance of showers through the weekend and increasing morphed into a major snowstorm potential.


As I had feared my shoulder was still too sore to work on the full-sized door I had started the preceding weekend.  I could do some work, but I had to keep my hands in close to my torso; the arm extension/power I needed to work on the door was simply not there.  Instead I took the opportunity to make a new drawer for my re-cycled tool box, which started life as a case for a surveyor’s transit.  I bought it for a buck at a flea market, and since it was made of solid old mahogany I decided to make it something more useful than simply a storage container.  Over time it is slowly evolving into a tightly fitted housing for tools, a conceptual distant and poor cousin of Henry Studley’s tool ensemble.


In addition to the original box I added a pair of drawers underneath it, and had already built the two drawers.  For the little one on top, I fussed with it until I broke it and thus the need for the new one.

In the background of this project was the emergence of a glorious day once the sun got up and working, and it was again a warm, brilliantly sunny day and the streets, shops, and cantinas filled quickly and fully.  We had almost no visitors before lunch, but from lunch until 6PM we were thronged with enthusiasts, gadflys and kibitzers.  Given that is was pretty amazing that by 5PM I got the entire drawer finished from the raw stock I began with at 8AM.


First came the tiny dovetails,


then layed out and cut the pins based on tracing the tails,


and finally all glued together with hot hide glue.  I simply glued the 1/8″ plywood bottom to the sides and the underside of the rabet on the front.


The weather projections became increasingly dire, and given my very tight travel schedule for this week, I could not afford to get snowed in and so we bugged out by lunch time on Sunday to beat the storm.  Good thing we did as this is the scene on waking this morning.  Up in the mountains they had even more snow, perhaps four or five more inches.


Down in the basement I finished fitting the new drawer so now it is ready to fulfill its task.  Which is, to paraphrase philosopher Dolly Parton when commenting on the failure of a sequined gown to contain her, uh, self, “packing thirty pounds of mud in a twenty pound bag.”  My goal is to outfit the box as my traveling kit with enough to do about 95% of everything that needs to be done in simple furniture making.