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New, improved & old-fashioned

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My wife and I were talking the other day about boneless chicken breasts, which – of course - made me think of woodworking.

Over dinner the other night – I made boneless chicken breasts on broccoli, with a mushroom cream sauce topping – Sally and I had one of those discussions where later you can never remember how the heck it got started. Chicken breasts are something we cooks take for granted, but she reminded me they’re actually a relatively new innovation insomuch as being readily available. Cooks have been removing bones from chicken before cooking for centuries probably, but being able to buy it that way really only came about in the late ’70s or so, and then only for institutional customers like restaurants. It wasn’t available to the general public till a few years after that. (She knows this stuff; she worked in the food brokerage business at the time.)

But try as I might, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t use them; seems like they’ve always been around. A quick look around my shop finds lots of examples of the same thing.

• Sanding sheets with holes for dust collection. For that matter, sanding sheets with Velcro that stick easily to the pad on a random orbit sander. Come to that, how about the random orbit sander itself? None of these were available more than a couple decades ago, and yet I can’t remember a time when they weren’t.

• Colored tools. They used to come in one color: dark gray. When did rainbows invade our shops?

• Ditto cordless.

• Polyurethane. Shellac in a spray can. “Wiping” varnish.

• Black screws.

• Combo routers. Heck, combo anything.

• WD-40

• Diamond-based sharpening stones.

I could literally go on and on listing things that are so commonplace now that we couldn’t imagine a shop without them. And yet, it’s hard to remember a time when they weren’t part of our shops. How about you?

Till next time,


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