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Tips From Sticks-In-The-Mud Woodshop
By Jim Randolph
Long Beach, Mississippi

Welcome to "Tips From Sticks-In-The-Mud Woodshop." I am a hobbyist who loves woodworking and writing for those who also love the craft. I have found some ways to accomplish tasks in the workshop that might be helpful to you, and I enjoy hearing your own problem-solving ideas. Please share them in the COMMENTS section of each tip. If, in the process, I can also make you laugh, I have achieved 100% of my goals.

Swan Song

"The Lord works in mysterious ways."

My first job was pushing a lawnmower around our neighborhood, knocking on doors of homes where the grass seemed high enough that the owners might want their lawn mowed. (It's interesting to me that the people running lawn care businesses today are still mostly from my generation, although they may have hired people younger than us to work in the sun and heat).

My next job was a paperboy, which I began as a bicycle route. The size doubled when a friend quit his route and I took on both. A nifty, thrifty Honda 50 allowed me to carry enough papers to complete the work in a reasonable amount of time and still be punctual for school.

At age 13 I was fired from the first job that I worked as an employee and not an independent contractor. George Nowicki let me go because I was "too immature." I didn't give up. I went back to work for him a year later, which led to becoming a professional mechanic, first in his Imported Car Service shop, then, later, at McBride's Garage working on American cars.

A while back, I said to Brenda, "Maybe I should quit my writing jobs so that I can start on my books."

Shortly after that I was let go from a magazine writing gig I'd had for about ten years because the magazine was being discontinued, and, while grieving, it occurred to me that the Lord has opened up this opportunity for me to begin writing books.

However, I still have a day job that consumes many, many hours each week, and my writing is mostly done during lunch. If I'm going to write these books, it will have to be done during that break time, which means I need to also let go of writing for Highland Woodworking.

I wrote my first piece for Wood News Online on July 9, 2011, which was published in their December 2012 issue. It has been a great eight years; I have learned so much from writing and researching. I recommend any and all of you to share your ideas with our fellow woodworkers.

It's likely I'll be sending in more Tips, Polls and safety ideas intermittently.

Meanwhile, look for me in the dark corners of restaurants. I'll be the guy with a fork in one hand and a laptop in the other.

The current plan is for my first book to be about a pair of osprey,
Pandion haliaetus, and some babies, all yet to be named. I have
made notes for several more books. The challenge is fleshing them
out and finding the right illustrator. This photo of a fish-eating
machine was taken near our home.

Tip #1 - Using Chains in the Shop

Jim shares a tip on how he uses metal chains in his shop to help when he has to finish a large project.

Click here to read the tip

Tip #2 - Coat Hangers

No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift. Thus, each month I share a money-saving tip. It's OK if you call me "cheap."

In this month's money-saving tip, Jim discusses how he uses coat hangers to help provide stability when finishing a handrail project.

Click here to read the tip

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda's home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home. Questions and comments on woodworking may be written in the comments section of each tip in the Highland Woodworking Blog. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

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