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Resistance is futile

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It only took an exchange of a few e-mails, but I think I may have created a new woodworker.

Over the last two weeks I've been trading e-mails with a total stranger, prompted by a post he'd made on one of the Civil War forums I frequent. The discussion centered on making an authentic version of hardtack, a ridiculously hard and inedible cracker that was a staple of soldiers' diets during the war. This particular poster had come up with a good recipe and was, in fact, making the crackers for sale to reenactors.

Back in the 19th century, hardtack was packed in large wooden crates, and this guy from the forum was wrapping his hardtack in small paper bundles with a facsimile of the stenciling they used to paint on the lids of those wooden crates. His stencil, downloaded from the Internet, wasn't very good.

Now, as it happens one of the projects in my Civil War Woodworking book is a reproduction hardtack crate made to exact U.S. Army specs from 1862. For the stencil on my crate I used Photoshop to create an exact copy of the stenciling from a surviving example in a private collection. I offered to send him a copy of the stencil I made, which he could then downsize for his hardtack packaging. Naturally, he snapped up the offer.

After continued correspondence, I mentioned my upcoming book and he became very excited. He's not currently a woodworker and noted that he doesn't own a table saw, but I get the impression that he's good with his hands. He's very eager to make one of these crates for himself, and is now asking lots of questions about the process. Woodworking has an addictive appeal that simply can't be resisted. Clearly, he's already been assimilated into our number.

I've always wondered what it would be like to see a woodworker being "born," and I think I may have just witnessed it happening.

Till next time,



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