When I teach woodworking classes, I am sometimes asked the following question: Do you consider yourself first a writer or a woodworker?
I don’t have an answer to that question. I have to do both things just about every day to feel human. And so I usually answer the question by saying: I don’t know. But right now I’m… (pick one) thirsty, tired, bloated, crampy, malodorous or oblong.
But today I was tired. Only tired (and a little oblong).
This evening we wrapped up five days of building “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” at the Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking in Australia. This is, hands down, the furthest that all the 12 students have come to completing the project. Almost all of the students had their lids glued up and were adding the dust seals when we called it quits. A couple students still had to glue up their lids, but that was more by choice than because it was 5 p.m.
There are two reasons we made it so far. First, I changed a couple simple things about the course with the dovetail layout and the cutting that saved us almost an entire day. Read my blog entry here for more details on that.
Second, the students were relentless. It was honestly unlike anything I had seen before in any class. They worked like dogs during the day (barely stopping for lunch) and we had to shoo them out in the evening. Also notable: They saw, hammer and plane much faster than Americans, Canadians or Europeans. Faster is not always better, but their swifter pace was noticeable.
So now I am about 90 percent prone in my hotel room with a beer from Coopers Brewery at my side. Tomorrow I’m off to a meeting of the Hand Tool Preservation Association of Australia and then to visit the shop of toolmaker Chris Vesper.
It’s all enough to make you “dry as a dead dingo’s donger” (my new favorite idiom) and need a second beer.
— Christopher Schwarz