Musings

Sweet Home (from) Alabama

Whew! Concluding a few months of mostly traveling we got back to Shangri-la late Sunday evening after driving non-stop from Alabama, where L’il T’s family just moved (we were “helping,” a/k/a grandparenting L’il T and his brother).  Travel advisory — avoid Chattanooga if at all possible, the construction and attendant constriction made it a more than an hour of stop and go experience at 97 degrees.

I am looking forward to resuming some semblance of norma life, including full days in the shop.  This is made possible by the cessation of travel for most of the foreseeable future, along with finding a sturdy Mennonite lad to do most of the yard work.  We were spending 3-4 days a week just keeping the grass cut, brush beat back, and trimming the edges.  This young man could do what is necessary in 3-4 hours, rather than 3-4 days.  Oh, to have the exuberance and fortitude of the young!  That plus a $10k lawnmower makes a big difference.

Other than routine chores around the homestead I’ll be preparing for a Labor Day Weekend shindig at my friend Tim’s place, celebrating the historic crafts of our ancestors.  I’ll be assembling a vintage-form tool kit to fit into my antique cabinetmaker’s tool chest which has been used as storage for the past couple decades.  So, I’ll be there with tools and one of my Nicholson workbenches, in period costume, probably making a small dowry chest.  If you are in the region, stop on by.

In addition I’ll be ramping up for my only teaching event of the year, a 3-day Introduction to Historic Woodfinishing workshop near Charlottesville VA.

And resuming work on my magnum opus tool cabinet, and oh by the way L’il T is now big enough to use a step stool to wash his hands and brush his teeth.  The ones I made for his mom and aunt are still in service after 35+ years.

And my traveling tool kit needs completing.  As do a couple of Gragg chairs.  And those half-finished Studley mallet exercises, and the patterns for the genuine replicas.  And the custom oculars for my rifle scopes, bypassing the now nearly defunct right eye (dominant).  And the boat load of writing and editing staring me in the face.  And setting up a video system to make in-shop vids after I get the Gragg video edited.  And tuning my ripple molder.

And, and, and…

We Hold These Truths… (2024)

This post is presented annually, revised a bit from time to time.  Despite dozens of recitations, I can never read the last line of The Declaration out loud because I am overcome with emotion.- DCW

Tomorrow my fellow Patriots and I, however many of us there are, will commemorate and celebrate the 248th anniversary of the most profound statement of human aspiration ever known.  We have already endured two violent wars of secession, the first from 1775-1783 and the second from 1861-1865, and I pray that our third one can be avoided by a peaceful segregation of a populace that no longer shares a common vision.

As our nation is seemingly rife with incurious, gullible and servile inhabitants, we would be well-served to reflect seriously on the document encapsulating the mission statement for the greatest nation ever known to man, the only nation ever founded on a creed rather than geography or lineage.   It was and is of course imperfect, no institution created by fallen and sinful men and women can be anything else.

I am unabashedly proud to be a partisan in the cause of Life, Liberty, and Property (the original wording) and find The Declaration of Independence to be the most noble civil 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.

God Bless America, and may righteousness flourish and wickedness be overcome.

========================================================

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.

Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn

Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

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

Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross

Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple

Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry

Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery

Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

Matthew Thornton

Whenever You Think You Need An Exquisite Tool Kit…

I’ve met a few guys like this out here in the hinterlands.  I’ve often said I was Northern by birth and Southern by the Grace of God.  I might amend that now given my affection for life on the fringe of Appalachia.

I’ve been beat by the end of the day between yard work and such, and another round of “rearrangeritis” (h/t Stumpy Nubs) in the shop.  I’ve probably not done much real work at the bench in three or four months.  Between finding a young fellow to take over all the yard work and winding down some sporadic family travel I hope to be back making sawdust and shavings in a month.

Materials Science To The Rescue Again (not Woodworking)

As a craftsman with severe visual limitations, like a great hindrance from ultra-low light conditions, (a/k/a “night) I found this article made my heart go a-flutter.  I have absolutely no idea of the content’s veracity but enjoyed it just the same.

Now back to the neverending yard work.

Optical Engineers Invent Ultra-Thin Coating That Turns Ordinary Glasses into High-Efficiency Night Vision Goggles – The Debrief

10 Tools For the Old Folks’ Home

This video resonated with me as it has been an area of contemplation for quite some time.  A couple years ago Mrs. Barn attended an Eldercare event and they recommended that spouses discuss in detail their preferences for life in an assisted living arrangement or similar.  When we were having this discussion about that far off day, she was astounded that my top ranked “deal breaker” was not what she expected — my pocket tool.  My “deal breaker” was I would never willingly go into a care facility where I could not have my pocket knife/utility tool.

While the choices made in this video are thought provoking, they are probably not mine.  For starters, the question arises, “Exactly what kind of work would I be doing in the old folks’ home?”  A second attendant question would be, “Exactly what are the facilities and space available to me?”

Regardless of the second answer, the odds of me doing large scale woodworking or furniture making in an old folks’ home are pretty slim and my tool choices reflect that.  It is more likely that I would be doing puttering and repairing, making very small things or fixing stuff for other folks.  Plus, I’m thinking it would be a pretty rare circumstance where I would have access to a real workshop so my space would be my bedroom/sitting room and the furniture therein. (Obviously this assumes a transition from my own domicile to another facility).  Hence, my choices would be very different than those in the video.

Of course, the list begins with my Victorinox Spirit multi-tool.  Second would be a multi-screwdriver of the Stanley, Craftsman or Milwaukee variety, followed immediately by a pair of pliers or more likely small channel lock and adjustable wrench. Though these are not “woodworking tools” per se, they do provide a foundation for almost everything downstream.  The scene with Walt and Toad regarding WD40 and channel locks in the movie Grand Torino summarizes the situation perfectly.

After that, again since my scenario is built on a premise of having only my bedroom or sitting room to work in, I would need a work holding set-up.  For me that means either a Zyliss vise or a wood screw clamp.  Add a block plane with two irons — one flat, the other cambered — a small Japanese saw, a small eggbeater drill or Yankee drill or similar, and a 3/8″ chisel and I would surprise myself at how much I could accomplish.

Though not the “5 Tools” as addressed by the video, I think these 10 Tools (combined with a nice plywood for a work surface, and some ultra fine wet-or-dry sandpaper in lieu of a sharpening stone) are the ones I would want in hand as I head to the geezer farm.  In the meantime, I’ve still got the barn and its 7000 s.f of work and storage space, along with another barn just for lumber.

If your choices would be different, let me know.

 

“Temporary”

When I first installed the hydro turbine fifteen (!) years ago I cobbled together a temporary pyramidal doghouse cover from XPS to keep the direct weather off of it until I got the permanent housing cover made.  Over the years my incentive for making the new one was low as the old cover lasted much longer than expected. This past winter was the final straw as the old “temporary” cover started coming apart, so I commenced to begin the new, final one.  I took advantage of a heavy dew the other day, making me wait for my daily dose of mowing, to finally assemble the new cover.

I began some time ago with making a laminated arch using exterior grade adhesive and copious crown staples.  I then screwed on a section of Ondura corrugated asphalt panel roofing for the, well, roof.  The unit is light and stiff due to the corrugated arched construction.  Once installed I recognized an unintended benefit.  The corrugation makes it stiff, yes, but also acts as a sound diffuser on the underside reducing the sound to almost zero once I get more than a few feet away.

If the “temporary” cover using scrap materials lasted fifteen years, I can only imagine how long this one will be doing its job.

Now, back to mowing.

The Latest Conversation Podcast (not woodworking)

I had another invigorating conversation this week with my long time friend (almost 40 years) broadcaster Brian Wilson, who though retired can’t quite kick the habit.  It’s posted on his podcast Now For Something Completely Different.  No, I will not provide the link to avoid the accusation of imposing my worldview on you.

This time we got even more philosophical and metaphysical than usual, with critiques of the current state of affairs in the culture and polity.

As always, if a pungent exchange of radical ideas is not your thing, avoid it.  You have been warned.

In The “First Time For Everything” Category

For the past dozen years I have been mothballing the barn’s microhydroelectric system once we get a few consecutive days with daily highs below freezing, usually in late November, then de-mothballing the system once we get to spring-like weather.  I learned a painful lesson the first year when I thought I could keep it running all winter long.  The result of that error was replacing 600 feet of spiral fractured 2-inch PVC line when the water inside froze solid.  Since following the newer strategy I mostly limp through the winter on the output of the solar panels.

As I reassembled the water line every spring, roughly a quarter mile of 2-inch PVC, and walk it top to bottom every year I would find some damage to repair, from ground upheaval (it is truly astounding how much the ground moves in the creek bed ravine over a winter here), extreme water flow during a heavy winter rain or snow melt, or (mostly) fallen trees.  Thus, my bringing the system online was usually a two- or three-day event.

Not so this year.  When I hooked up the water line from top to bottom, for the first time ever there was no damage!  Yes, a few of the soft joints had loosened and needed to be snugged up, no big deal other than getting pretty soaked, but other than that it was a couple hours of good exercise hiking up and down the creek bed.

Let the water and the electrons flow.

Woodfinishing Video In The Pipeline

This is the original DVD case cover art. I’m leaving the front pretty much alone but reworking the back extensively.

One of the ongoing headaches(?) has been the inability to resupply my inventory for the historic woodfinishing video F&W Media (PopWood) produced several years ago, which I had available on the donsbarn.com website store.  The new company that now owns PopWood discontinued the hard copies of the DVD and no longer even had “new old stock” copies in the warehouse.  After some back-and-forth the new company released the video to me gratis, for which I am most appreciative.  At Handworks 2023 the editor-in-chief made a point of confirming our earlier correspondence; my F&W videos were now my intellectual property to use as I saw fit.

The urgency of me acting on this came to a head a few months ago when my final copy was sold.  Since then I have been noodling the revisions of the original DVD cover and am now ready to send it off for reproduction after I let it ruminate for a couple days.  While the DVD content was now my property I had no desire to disavow F&W from the picture as they truly deserve all the credit for producing it in the first place.  Thus I am keeping the bones of the original packaging, crediting F&W, but revising the content a fair bit to re-brand it as a Barn on White Run product.

As soon as I get copies into my hands I will be fulfilling the two dozen orders that have been sitting in my “Pending” folder.

“Tis The Season…

…for non-stop yard work.

It’s been something of a perfect storm with a very wet late winter culminating in two substantial snowfalls a couple weeks ago followed by warming weather and more rain, and the switch was thrown for everything to get going (we had the wood stove cranking out heat a mere seven days ago but were heating up to the mid-70s and sun yesterday).  As a result we are in the midst of mowing, bush hogging, weeding, planting, burning, etc. with not a minute spent in the shop this week.  If this perfect cycle of rain and sun continues, we will have to mow at least a part of every day for the foreseeable future.  The grass I mowed on Monday is almost three inches higher today.

On top of that the rapid onset of spring/summer means that everything is producing pollen all at once.  Combined with a stubborn sinus infection, it feels like I am breathing through jello much of the time.

Last summer we had the great good fortune of finding a college kid home for the summer to hire for the yard work.  It was grand.  We’re still looking for someone to help this year but so far no luck so it’s up to the old folks to get it done.  As I’ve said many times, we work just as hard and just as long as ever but don’t seem to be getting nearly as much done.

As soon as I get this round of yard housekeeping done I will turn my attention to checking the penstock for the hydro system and making the requisite annual repairs, and moving forward on next year’s firewood.

Sigh.