Thursday, June 21, 2018

refreshing the efforts of mind

On Monday I begin a class at ESSA in box making. The  class is sold out with 9 students enrolled. One week from Saturday I begin a class in parent/child making of box guitars. There are still two openings in that class. You can call ESSA, 479-253-8754 to enroll.

Yesterday Trump signed an executive order ending his own policy of removing children from their parents and sending them into internment facilities. We've learned that some children have been drugged without parental permission to alleviate severe depression, anxiety and disruptive behavior likely caused by the circumstances of being removed from the protection of their parents.

Trump has announced no immediate plans to reunite parents and children. At this point they may not even have the means to do so. Children have been dispersed to facilities throughout the US while their parents have been deported.

Is that the kind of nation we are? And is Trump the kind of president we deserve to lead us? I am ready for one who sincerely cares about all human beings and takes steps to respect and preserve human rights.

This blog has an important mission, that of directing education toward the effectiveness and efficiencies of hands on learning. But forgive me, I have been distracted. I've been calling around to Senators and representatives and our own Arkansas governor, in the hopes that they will stand up to Trump.

They appear too frightened to do so. I long for the day in which each elected official sees clearly his or her role in helping us to get along with each other.

In times like these, having good hand work to do is therapeutic.  I've been cleaning the shop, putting away tools, gathering the needed tools for my classes and making necks for box guitars. It is important to have balance and work with the hands provides it. In fact, in the early days of manual arts training, it was known that the work with the hands would refresh and energize the efforts of the mind. Too few members of the "educated elite" will admit it.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

make some calls.

My wife and I went to Springdale, Arkansas last night to participate in a rally against the policy set by the Trump administration to remove children and infants from the care of their mothers and place them in internment camps and isolation facilities while their mothers and fathers are being deported at a wholesale pace.

I find it difficult to write about my usual subject, hands-on learning, when our own nation is purposely engaged in such outrageous behavior.

This is not time for business as usual. I made calls yesterday to our elected representatives. I will do the same today. Yes, I will also spend time preparing for next week's classes. Yes, I will also attend a board meeting for ESSA and a development meeting for the Clear Spring School. I will do so with a feeling that the nation we love and that we have been proud of is being stolen from us, by an egotistic thug and his evil minions.

I feel a deep sense of grief.

Many years ago when I worked at the Porter-Leath Children's Center in Memphis, it provided medical care to children brought in by their young mothers. I have strong memories of that time. I was interested in photography and would take photos of children and mothers that I would then put on a bulletin board for them to enjoy when they next came in. It was an opportunity for me to observe and record what so many others have done before, the deep bond between mother and child.  That bond is a human bond. It is the human glue that holds us together in caring families, communities and as a nation. It is greater than any false distinctions politicians might contrive.

We have leaders who have established a national policy that is tearing at that bond. That policy has set us apart from other nations, and we should feel great shame for allowing it.

Join me in making calls to your local representatives.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

burning square holes...

I am in the process of cleaning shop (my own) and getting ready for classes at ESSA. The photo shows the process of burning square holes in viking chests for the hardware attaching the handles. We drilled holes of a smaller size through the ends, and then used a heated rod of the correct shape to burn through.

Bob Patrick made the steel rods in preparation for the class and looks on while smoke rises. The process is interesting and exciting as bursts of flame occasionally erupt.

Make, fix, create. Increase the likelihood that others learn likewise.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Box maker's set-up block

I was cleaning collected items from the center console of my truck and found a tool that should be mentioned. It is a mini machinist's set up block that can be used for both 45 degree joints and 90 degrees. This one has an added advantage in a scale at one end with the measurements clearly identified in 32nds of an inch up to an inch and a half.

This is a perfect tool for box makers who are often required to change table saw angle settings from 45-90 degrees and back. The scale is perfect for setting blade heights.

If I had known it was in my truck, I would have used it several times in the last week. I am scratching my head with regard to how and from whom I acquired it.

In the background on my bench is more recent tool acquisition. Have you ever needed to drill a long straight hole in wood or metal? The gun drill is the tool of choice. I was introduced to the gun drill by Larry Copas as he used one to drill into a hollow form on the lathe. For metal, a stream of lubricating oil is delivered under pressure to the tip to prevent overheating. On the wood lathe, compressed air provides the needed cooling, and Larry was kind enough to adapt this one, bought on eBay so that it can be hooked up to compressed air.

The World Health Organization is about to name "gaming disorder" as a mental health condition. Computer games are engineered to be addictive. Creating objects of useful beauty can also  be addictive but it allows you or your child to make concrete contributions to family and community. Which do you think is the better idea?

We learn so very much from each other.

Make, fix, create and extend the circle so that others learn likewise.

Sunday, June 17, 2018


Yesterday I relaxed some following my 5 day class at ESSA making Viking style chests. The student made chests, as you can see are just as lovely as the one I made in preparation for the class.

The finish applied is boiled linseed oil, a finish used by the Vikings made from flax seed oil.

Flax is the only natural plant fiber that is grown in Western Europe. It is used to make linen cloth.

I have turned my attention toward preparation for my next classes. During the week, June 25-29 I will teach a class at ESSA in box making. On June 30 to July 1,  I will teach a parent child class in making box guitars. You may sign up at  

This is father's day. It is a national holiday to celebrate the father and his role in caring for children. You cannot be a real father without kids. While we celebrate this day, by saying "happy" to each other, children are being taken from their mothers. Fathers are being incarcerated, expelled from our country and kept away from their children. We think of ourselves as being humane and our nation as being good, but our government under it's current leadership is not. We are facing failure of our own national morality. One political party that generally proclaims its own moral and ethical superiority appears happy with that.

The role of fathers (whether biological fathers or not) is to support mothers in the care of all our kids. Let's celebrate fathers day by supporting all fathers in that.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Completed Viking Chests...

Yesterday we completed the class on making Viking style chests at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. The hardware the students made under the instruction of Bob Patrick worked well. The chests are lovely, and all the students were pleased with their work and with what they had learned.

At ESSA I keep making new friends, and this week, having blacksmiths, woodturners and woodworkers sharing the same studio complex, the opportunities were exponential, and my students were making friends with each other.

Now I begin planning and preparation for my next two classes.

Make, fix, create, and adjust education so that other learn likewise.

Friday, June 15, 2018


A friend refined my lathe dust collector to use larger  3 in. PVC pipe, as shown. He says it is based on my invention, but it shows his ingenuity as well. I see it as an improvement as it can use a much larger and more powerful dust collector. You can see that much happens at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts, including classes.

My shared class with Bob Patrick will come together today to finish our Viking style chests. Forged iron nails will be used to secure the corners of the chests, and be clinched to hold the hardware in place.

Yesterday we had a well attended studio stroll at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. It was the one year anniversary of the first classes in the woodshop, and we had demonstrations in pastels, blacksmithing, woodturning and box making. Many family members came to see what their loved ones had learned.

I got an email this morning from Fine Woodworking inviting me to learn how to hand plane from a master. That's all well and good. We love work and could watch it all day. But where will you take the next step and learn through your own hands? ESSA is more interesting than youtube.

Make, fix, create and enlist others in assisting all to learn likewise.