A few notes on wood. Literally.

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As a writer, I’m never without pen or pencil. I rarely have paper, but being a woodworker, that’s not a problem.

I always have a pen. I’m more likely to leave the house without my wallet than a pen. I’ll forget to put on socks before I forget to slip a pen in my shirt pocket. I suppose this habit is tied to my adult working life.

My first-ever paying job was in a public library, and having a pen was mandatory in those precomputer days. Entering broadcasting in my early 20s, I was constantly required to keep both transmitter and programming logs when on the air. Again, pen mandatory. Then, once I switched to publishing, the need for having a writing implement at all times should be obvious.

But those jobs come with things that require being written on, so I’ve never gotten into the habit of carrying paper or a notepad, although I’ve tried. Now, since always having a pen generally means always having a shirt with a pocket, I do tend to slip store receipts into said pocket, so I frequently do have something to jot a note on, but not always.

Yesterday, I was doing a photo shoot in the shop of the local technical school for an article I’m working on. The main photo involved two students building a large oak carriage. Once I got the shot I wanted, I reached into my shirt pocket for something to write the two kids’ names on. I had a pen, but nothing else.

No problem. As I do in my own shop, I just reached into the nearest scrap barrel and grabbed a small offcut, and wrote their names on it before slipping the scrap into my camera bag.

In my shop, I have dozens of small pieces of wood here and there with notes on them, simply because they were closer than a note pad. For those times when no scrap is within reach, I often jot notes right on the workbench or assembly table. In some cases, on the back or underside of a project itself. Maybe this is why I’m mystified by “go paperless” movements. When it comes to my shop, I’m mostly paperless already.

A.J.

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