Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 153, May 2018Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News
The Down to Earth Woodworker
By Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

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A Little Woodworking Whimsey

A Postal Tragedy

Figure 3 - A Twisted Fix... Stair stringers spreading? Don't worry. Drill a couple
of holes, wind through some old Romex cable, twist it until the stringers pull
back into place, then prop your winding stick against one of the stair treads and
call it a day. My "unhandy" handyman previous homeowner at his best!
Over the years I have written about "the un-handiest handyman" that owned my home previously, and described some of the outlandish, dangerous, and funny things he did… lamp cord for wiring inside the walls, a three-way switch made from two regular switches and some bizarre and dangerous wiring, the desk fan mounted in the roof blowing toward a gable vent, a sink drain made of garden hose, and more… but now I want to take it all back, apologize, and say to that gentleman, "you weren't that bad!"

Figure 4 - Click on this picture to enlarge it!
My change of heart? A mailbox. Now, I will be the first to admit that regular old snail mail is not very important these days. In fact, I only retrieve the mail from my mailbox once a week or so, if I think about it. With email, electronic banking, and other modern contrivances, there is not much need for conventional mail. Still, if convention mandates we all have a mailbox, we should at least try to maintain said mailbox in keeping with the overall motif of the neighborhood. Somehow, this guy didn't get the memo.

I tried to imagine how this came to pass. At some point, perhaps, the mailbox fell over. Maybe it was winter… pretty good odds here where it seems winter lasts about nine months. Maybe the ground was frozen and there was just no way to dig a hole. Planting the mailbox in a flower pot was, I'm sure, expedient. But then when the mailbox fell off the post, did he have to use duct tape to re-attach it? And if you click on the picture and enlarge it, you will see that the hinge pin for the mailbox door is gone, and a wire tie is secured through the two hinge holes to hold the door in place. I'm sure it works, but gee… I will give the guy style points, however. The Stars and Stripes decoration is a nice, patriotic touch.

Duck Bark

Nature is astounding in its beauty and complexity. And sometimes nature can render a shape reminiscent of another. Who hasn't conjured shapes from clouds and mountains in the distance, imagining everything from ships to faces in nature's glory?

Figure 5 - See any similarities? Maybe it is just my over-active imagination!
As mentioned in the previous section, a dead limb recently fell from a tree and I watched it, as it was falling. When I picked up the pieces, this piece of bark was laying on the ground, and immediately I saw in it the shape of a duck's head. This piece of bark is now in my shop, and I call it "duck bark." Duck bark may find its way into a project someday or at least it might inspire a shape or decoration for some piece of furniture.

It's Purely For The Videos

Figure 6 - Remember, it's not vanity driving me to do
this... it's for the sake of the videos!
Vanity is not a personality quirk for which I am guilty. Still, as I look back over a few years of my Down To Earth Woodworking videos, I see changes. Oh, sure, I gain weight in the winter and lose it in the summer, but there are some progressive changes that aren't seasonally self-correcting… like my hair. I can actually see my hairline recede if I look at, say, five videos, made in five successive years.

Therefore, it was intriguing to recently read an article describing some research done overseas. The scientists claim that an anti-foaming agent that McDonalds uses in their French fry grease might stimulate hair growth. According to their experiments, it worked in stellar fashion on some lab rats, so I decided to turn myself into a lab rat and give it a go. Hey, I like McDonald's French fries, so it is a reasonably good excuse to hit the old drive-in window from time to time. Hmmm, now that I think about it, maybe the weight gain isn't due to winter-induced inactivity.

I'll let you know if I start to regrow some hair.

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Steven Johnson is retired from an almost 30-year career selling medical equipment and supplies, and now enjoys improving his shop, his skills, and his designs on a full time basis (although he says home improvement projects and furniture building have been hobbies for most of his adult life). Steven can be reached directly via email at sjohnson@downtoearthwoodworking.com

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