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Different worlds

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The highlight of an outing last weekend was visiting another woodworker. There were few similarities in how we work, and yet he and I had everything in common.

Sally and I drove up to Millersburg, Ohio, last weekend where a town wide fall festival, craft show and antique sale was going on. Beyond that, the town itself was delightful, with several antique stores and many other shops.

The shop I enjoyed the most was called Colonial Homestead, an old storefront space filled with some of the nicest finely crafted furniture and other woodworking items I’d seen in a while. The master carpenter, a gentleman named Dan Raber, also carried a line of antique tools for sale, so between his fine furniture and all the tools I was hard-pressed to be dragged back to the craft show to see a bunch of silly scarecrows-on-a-stick. I was particularly interested in the project clamped up at his massive workbench – a musket gunstock he was carving in solid purpleheart. His work was amazing; far better than anything I could hope to do.

At this point you’re probably about to Google to find his website, but don’t bother. He doesn’t have one. You see, Dan’s Amish, and there’s not a bit of powered equipment in his shop, much less a computer to manage a website.

We started chatting about our mutual interest in muskets and woodworking, and it quickly became apparent that we were kindred spirits despite the fact that he uses no power at all for his woodworking, while I’d be totally lost without my power tools. He’s quite used to shoppers marveling over his furniture, but he was especially pleased to show off his work to another woodworker. For my part, I enjoyed asking about the details of construction and swapping shop stories with him, something his typical patrons rarely do.

I think we spent a good half hour to 45 minutes chatting before I reluctantly let him get back to work and dealing with customers. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the chance to spend time like that with another woodworker.

As we left the shop, I got the feeling that – despite our vastly different backgrounds – he felt exactly the same way.



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