If it weren’t for my wife, Lucy, I’d probably live and work alone – without a phone and with as little direct human contact as possible.
Yup, Lucy had to ask me out on our first date. And yes, she had to ask for my hand in marriage.
During the last 20 years, I’ve tried to pretend to be more social. Why? Because it has helped my woodworking immensely.
As I’ve mentioned before, all of my ideas for books were the result of talking to other woodworkers about their tools, their workbenches and they way they work. And all the best things I have learned about the craft have come from watching other woodworkers build things – not a DVD, not on a computer screen but in their shop and in real time.
I was reminded of this last night while installing hardware on this Campaign Secretary. I’d dusted off my plunge router to waste away a bunch of wood for a piece of brass in a prominent place on the secretary. Everything was going great until my hand slipped and the bit flew into a place it wasn’t supposed to. In about a second, I had made a dime-sized major error on one of the most visible surfaces of this piece.
I unplugged the router, carefully wrapped the cord around it and returned it to the bottom of a drawer for another two-year shunning. Dang I hate those spinny tools.
Now, how to fix the error? The answer was easy, thanks to my friendship with Carl Bilderback. Carl is a semi-retired carpenter, tool collector, woodworker and all-around generous fellow. We first met when he called to give me some grief about an error in one of my tool reviews. Despite the fact that he was ripping me a new one, he was gentle about it. And he became an excellent resource for me on hand work and an occasional author for Popular Woodworking Magazine.
Carl had written a piece on how to make a “dutchman” – a patch used to disguise an error such as this. Patching other people’s mistakes was one of his specialties as a carpenter. The article, “Perfect Patching,” is in the February 2008 issue on page 76 if you’d like to read it. I took the photos for the article and was his editor.
It’s a brilliant article, and Carl’s knowledge and willingness to share it really saved my butt. In about 15 minutes I had glued in a patch. Then I went to dinner with a fellow woodworker where I confessed my crimes (“Forgive me Norm, for I have sinned”). When I came home I leveled the patch and went back to work – this time removing waste with a firmer gouge instead of a router. Thanks Carl.
So where exactly is the repair? I’m not telling. It’s my job to hide it. It’s your job to find it.
— Christopher Schwarz