Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A word to the wise... a small how-to gift as well

When I began this blog about the hands, I wondered about being able to say something about the hands each day. And yet, I have found the subject quite large. The hands quite literally "touch" every aspect of human life. If you are a regular reader, you may feel that I wander off subject at times. I was told by one reader that my posts were becoming too political for his taste. The hands provide a lens on a different view that others may or may not share. As is often said, "your mileage may vary."

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will also have noticed that I tend to repeat myself. I make no apologies for that. A craftsman knows that repetition is the key to refinement and my hopes are that a gradual refinement of message takes place, providing greater clarity. After all, when we reach a level of shared wisdom a single word may suffice.

Unless something major comes up, I will take a break from posting for a couple days. I want to thank those who read regularly. There is very little I might say that would be more valuable to you than to suggest you take greater notice of your own hands. And that is my wish and gift for you this holiday season.

Despite the slowdown in the economy, the underside of our tree is stuffed with things to be opened. Mystery, anticipation, hopes to please and take pleasure. We will try to slow things down, take note of the mystery and wonder in our own hands as packages are unwrapped and objects are explored.

May you have a wonderful holiday season and a great grip on the New Year.

I also have a small how-to gift for you. It is a last minute thing and I won't bother to wrap.

Photo one below shows a simple squiggle line drawn on a piece of wood that allows me to keep parts in sequence for grain matching. Draw the squiggle offset toward the top edge of the board rather than centered. Then when the parts have been cut apart and mitered, they go right back without having to spend too much time studying the grain pattern and without having to number the parts in a more complicated manner.

Photo 2 shows spreading glue with the fingers. This is something I learned at school. Make a puddle of glue, dip your finger and spread. Water-based glues wipe off the fingers easily, and the fingers are the best applicators as you can feel when you have the right amount on the wood. I deliberately place some glue in the cuts made for the bottoms to fit, as in this box the plywood bottom serves as a glued-in-place structural element.

Photo 3 shows the use of rubber bands in place of clamps to hold the box sides together as the glue dries. Rubber bands have a self-centering effect on the corners, pulling them together in a more uniform manner than standard clamps. When you use clamps from opposite sides, the pressure on one has to be offset by pressure on the other and they are incredibly awkward to use on such a small box. Clear packing tape will also work, but the rubber bands are much easier to remove when their work is done, and they can be reused on the next set of boxes.

Have a joyous, creative and productive holiday season!

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