‘I’d Rather Have a Rat in my Mouth’


Several readers have asked how far the students in my tool chest class at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking got on Friday afternoon.

Everyone got their lids complete. About four or five people got the dust seal on. Honestly, I think every student could have finished both the lid and the dust seal, but everyone was tired and ready to crack open a beer or try a shot of Connecticut moonshine (that is not a typo).

So we spent the last hour just yacking it up.

As for me, I had Carl “Mr. Wonderful” Bilderback assisting me this week, so I was able to finish the entire shell of the chest and get three coats of milk paint on the carcase.

At one point I asked Carl, a retired union carpenter, to give me a hand with the painting. He readily and cheerfully agreed. But then he noted that during his career he always told people he’d “rather have a rat in my mouth than paint something.”

Sorry Carl.

— Christopher Schwarz


About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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8 Responses to ‘I’d Rather Have a Rat in my Mouth’

  1. I concur with Carl, which is why my chest was made from Walnut….haha.

  2. shavemaker says:

    I’ve had a rat up my trousers – I’d rather paint!

  3. Tom Dickey says:

    Funny, my Dad a 50 year union carpenter, basically has the same view point!

  4. fitz says:

    And it looks as if you made him use proper milk paint, to boot!

  5. tpier says:

    It appears to me that if that first picture had been taken a microsecond later one of Carl’s digits would have been extended.

  6. Kim Howarter says:

    Looks nice! I just got 100 board feet of eastern white pine for my atc build this weekend. Drove 185 miles each way to get it! It just fit inside my Escape, wife sat behind me got to be a real backseat driver.

  7. I don’t know, I come from a strong union family. My dad was a member of the ironworkers union, my brother is an operator and part of the union and I’m part of the FOP union. Rat to us means something different apparently and I’d never want one in my mouth…..

    That tool chest looks really nice, for all of Mr. Bilderback’s disdain of painting, he does a hell of a good job at it.

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