The Amateur Carpenter
In my opinion every professional man should keep a chest of carpenters’ tools in his barn or shop, and busy himself at odd hours with them in constructing the varied articles that are always needed about the house. There is a great deal of pleasure in feeling your own independence of other trades, and more especially of the carpenter.
Every now and then your wife will want a bracket put up in some corner or other, and with your new, bright saw and glittering hammer you can put up one upon which she can hang a cast-iron horse-blanket lambrequin, with inflexible water lilies sewed in it.
A man will, if he tries, readily learn to do a great many such little things and his wife will brag on him to other ladies, and they will make invidious comparisons between their husbands who can’t do anything of that kind whatever, and you who are “so handy.”
Firstly, you buy a set of amateur carpenter tools. You do not need to say that you are an amateur. The dealer will find that out when you ask him for an easy-running broad-ax or a green-gage plumb line. He will sell you a set of amateur’s tools that will be made of old sheet-iron with basswood handles, and the saws will double up like a piece of stovepipe.
After you have nailed a board on the fence successfully, you will very naturally desire to do something much better, more difficult. You will probable try to erect a parlor table or rustic settee.
I made a very handsome bracket last week, and I was naturally proud of it. In fastening it together, if I hadn’t inadvertently nailed it to the barn floor, I guess I could have used it very well, but in tearing it loose from the barn, so that the two could be used separately, I ruined a bracket that was intended to serve as the base, as it were, of a lambrequin which cost nine dollars, aside from the time expended on it.
During the month of March I built an ice-chest for this summer. It was not handsome, but it was roomy, and would be very nice for the season of 1886, I thought. It worked pretty well through March and April, but as the weather begins to warm up that ice-chest is about the warmest place around the house. There is actually a glow of heat around that ice-chest that I don’t notice elsewhere. I’ve shown it to several personal friends. They seem to think it is not built tightly enough for an ice-chest.
My brother looked at it yesterday, and said that his idea of an ice-chest was that it ought to be tight enough at least to hold the larger chunks of ice so that they would not escape through the pores of the ice-box. He says he never built one, but that it stood to reason that a refrigerator like that ought to be constructed so that it would keep the cows out of it. You don’t want to have a refrigerator that the cattle can get through the cracks of and eat up your strawberries on ice, he says.
A neighbor of mine who once built a hen resort of laths, and now wears a thick thumb-nail that looks like a Brazil nut as a memento of that pullet corral, says my ice-chest is all right enough, only that it is not suited to this climate. He thinks that along Behring’s Strait, during the holidays, my ice-chest would work like a charm. And even here, he thought, if I could keep the fever out of my chest there would be less pain.
I have made several other little articles of vertu this spring, to the construction of which I have contributed a good deal of time and two finger nails. I have also sawed into my leg two or three times. The leg, of course, will get well, but the pantaloons will not.
Parties wishing to meet me in my studio during the morning hour will turn into the alley between Eighth and Ninth streets, enter the third stable door on the left, pass around behind my Gothic horse, and give the countersign and three kicks on the door in an ordinary tone of voice.
Great Sacrifice of Bric-a-brac
Parties desiring to buy a job-lot of garden tools, will do well to call and examine my stock. These implements have been but slightly used, and are comparatively as good as new. The lot consists in part of the following:
One three-cornered hoe, Gothic in its architecture and in good running order. It is the same one I erroneously hoed up the carnation with, and may be found, I think, behind the barn, where I threw it when I discovered my error. Original cost of hoe, six bits. Will be closed out now at two bits to make room for new goods.
Also one garden rake, almost as good as new. One front tooth needs filling, and then it will be as good as ever. I sell this weapon, not so much to get rid of it, but because I do not want it any more. I shall not garden any next spring. I do not need to.
I began it to benefit my health, and my health is now so healthy that I shall not require the open-air exercise incident to gardening any more. In fact, I am too robust, if anything. I will, therefore, acting upon the advice of my royal physician, close this rake out, since the failure of the Northwestern Car Company, at 50 cents on the dollar.
Also one lawn-mower, only used once. At that time I cut down what grass I had on my lawn, and three varieties of high-priced rose bushes. It is one of the most hardy open-air lawn-mowers now made. It will outlive any other lawn-mower, and be firm and unmoved when all the shrubbery has gone to decay. You can also mow your peony bed with it, if you desire. I tried it.
This is also an easy running lawn-mower. I would recommend it to any man who would like to soak his lawn with perspiration. I mowed my lawn, and then pushed a street-car around in the afternoon to relax my over-strained muscles. I will sacrifice this lawn-mower at three-quarters of its original cost, owing to depression in the stock of the New Jerusalem gold mine, of which I am a large owner and cashier-at-large.
Will also sell a bright new spade, only used two hours spading for angle-worms. This is a good, early-blooming and very hardy angle-worm spade, built in the Doric style of architecture. Persons desiring a spade flush, and lacking one spade to “fill,” will do well to give me a call. No trouble to show the goods.
I will also part with a small chest of carpenter’s tools, only slightly used. I had intended to do a good deal of amateur carpenter work this summer, but, as the presidential convention occurs in June, and I shall have to attend to that, and as I have already sawed up a Queen Anne chair, and thoughtlessly sawed into my leg, I shall probably sacrifice the tools.
These tools are all well made, and I do not sell them to make money on them, but because I have no use for them. I feel as though these tools would be safer in the hands of a carpenter. I’m no carpenter. My wife admitted that when I sawed a board across the piano-stool and sawed the what-do-you-call-it all out of the cushion.
Anyone desiring to monkey with the carpenter’s trade, will do well to consult my catalogue and price-list. I will throw in a white holly corner-bracket, put together with fence nails, and a rustic settee that looks like the Cincinnati riot.
Young men who do not know much, and invalids whose minds have become affected, are cordially invited to call and examine goods. For a cash trade I will also throw in arnica, court-plaster and salve enough to run the tools two weeks, if ordinary care be taken.
If properly approached, I might also be wheedled into sacrificing an easy-running domestic wheelbarrow. I have domesticated it myself and taught it a great many tricks.
Remarks by Bill Nye – 1886