Lost and found

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I wrapped up my review of those seven cordless circular saws I spoke about a few blogs ago, and as I always do after one of these roundup reviews, I had to give my shop a thorough cleaning.

Doing a roundup tool review – where I test a group of tools in the same class or range – ends up involving the whole shop. And, sometimes, the back patio. And the driveway. I had 4x4 treated posts in the shop that I sliced to ribbons. I mocked up a little deck of 2x4s on the back patio, and cut the bajabbers out of it. Out on the driveway I made about a thousand crosscuts in 2-bys on a pair of sawhorses. What a mess. (As an aside, I need to hobnob with my fellow woodworking writers one of these days and ask them how they handle these kinds of reviews vis-à-vis the mess and clutter that always takes over the shop.)

But as I’m cleaning – and I’m talking about one of those full-tilt-boogie cleanings where the whole shop gets turned upside-down – I found a bunch of stuff I’d thought was either long-gone or long-lost. The most obvious were the dozens of nails, screws, washers and other assorted fittings that had dropped and rolled into the shop’s nether regions. Some of these I found outright, while the others I heard loudly rattling up the hose of the shop vacuum. Empty soda cans seem to find nooks everywhere, remaining invisible till cleaning time. And I’m still finding these little plastic bits that attach framing nails together from a review of air compressors I did a year ago.

So I’m trimming all the wood I used for test cutting to keep as short stock and stowing it away, and as part of the process I reorganized and shifted stuff around in my cutoff stacks, and what do I find but a single piece of 3/16” cherry. This piece is 3/16” thick by 6” wide by not quite four feet long. It was hidden between two sheets of ply. I’d had this cherry for years, and it was one of the few pieces of stock I moved from Connecticut to West Virginia. In fact, I wrote about this same cherry stock in an editorial in Woodshop News about eight years ago. I was thrilled to find it.

I’ve used other 3/16” cherry for dozens of projects since losing this particular piece, so it’s not like finding a piece of stock that size is unusual. It’s just that it was one of the same group of book-matched pieces I’d bought back in, oh, 1997 or 1998. It’s like finding a section of newspaper from years ago that you used for stuffing between stored dishes, and you pull it out and look at it, and you start to thinking about everything that was happening in your life at the time. This cherry was time-wise specific in that sense, and I immediately took a momentary Way-Back Machine ride to that part of my life, thinking about what I was doing then, how my daughter was still in junior high, and everything else going on at that time.

Many of us do woodworking to lose ourselves in our hobby. It’s not often that the same pursuit can lead to losing one’s self in time, but that’s exactly what I did tonight.

It was a great trip.

Till next time,

A.J.

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