Shop sharing

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Woodworking should be shared, but I recently learned that I’ve been sharing my shop with some very minuscule shop mates.

I wanted to tune up my drill press, so I went to dig out the manual. I keep all my tool manuals on a low shelf below my workbench. They’re nearly on the floor, really, low and out of the way because I rarely need them. I pulled out a 2”-thick handful of them to find that drill press manual, and was shocked to find that the lower back corner was gone from every one of them in a circular arc. It looked comically like a shark had taken a bite out of the stack. In behind them – and the rest of the manuals – was a big puff of shredded paper and mouse “debris,” to call it delicately. The rest of the manuals were similarly chewed, creating a cozy little space behind them. No actual mice, though; the nest appeared long abandoned.

My first thought was, what the heck am I paying those cats for? Those two useless furballs have been taking their paychecks (and hogging up the bed every night) for years under false pretenses. My second thought was, how did the mice get in? But then I recalled that when building cabinets during my shop redo last summer, I had the garage door open frequently and at length while working, often into the evening hours. My guess is that they strolled right in then. Where they ultimately disappeared to, I had no idea.

I vacuumed up the mess and took stock of the manuals; although every one of them had the corner chewed off to one degree or another, most of the info in them was intact. In a cleaning mood, I continued straightening things. On that same shelf, in addition to manuals I keep several brick-sized chunks of turning blanks. The paper shreds had drifted in among them so I took them out, too.

And underneath one was a flat, desiccated mouse, perfectly preserved like a flower pressed in a book. My guess is that the mouse was crawling around in those turning blanks, and they shifted tragically (for him). Of maybe I did it unknowingly when shoving some blanks in there in a wrong-place-wrong-time situation (again, for him).

But I’d like to think he went scrambling under that turning blank while running in terror from one of my cats actually doing its job, and knocked the stack on top of himself escaping the ever-vigilant claws of our relentless pest-control system earning its paycheck.

But I know better.

A.J.

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