Flat Packs and Cat Tales

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Humans are very entertaining. The other day my human brought home a large flat box. She ripped open the end and nearly stepped on my tail doing those silly jumping jacks to coax the contents out.

My human actually sat on the floor, eyes glued to the paper that lay on top of the stack. She must not have realized she wasn’t in a chair. I pawed at the paper held in her hand, then moved in closer. See, it’s easier to read the directions with your teeth.

On all fours after categorically refusing my help, she started moving pieces from the box around on the floor. I jumped from board to board like Frogger chasing a high score award. My job was to check each board for structural integrity by having it hold my mass evenly, with proper grace and style. Summarily slid from my summit onto the floor is so not dignified.

So many tiny pieces piled on top of the last board. I had to inspect each and every one, of course. My human dropped a small shiny thing to the floor. Let me get that for you. What? Honestly, I wasn’t going to swallow it! When her fingers wrenched my mouth open, I gave it back to her. That was so helpful. I think I’ll do it again!

I don’t know why she kept putting these tiny wooden pieces into holes on a board that clearly don’t want them. When the third one fell to the floor, I tried to help her pick it up. Oh, what a yummy smell! Think I’ll have just a little…

“Max!” my human screamed.

It was just one. I wasn’t really gonna eat it. I was just measuring it, with my mouth.

“No, blah, blah, blah, Max.”

Her tone sounded harsh. She was obviously upset with herself and her impossible project. I did try to help.

The large white boards first formed a box of some sort. Not very sturdy I’d say. The structure swayed back and forth like the walls of a Japanese toilet room in the middle of an earthquake. Aren’t those smaller boards supposed to go in there somewhere?

While she played her game of dominoes with the middle pieces of the thing, a large metal claw-like thing laying nearby on the floor warranted my further investigation. It moved a little my first try. I wanted to see how far I could slide it, but my human picked it up before I had a good a swing at it. After indiscernible shouts and a quicker than my tail flick reflex when it landed on her thumb, I was glad I decided it really wasn’t worth that much bother. My beauty sleep is more important.

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Three naps later, my human had constructed me a new perch from which to spy on passersby, exactly what I wanted. I think I’ll keep her.

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Wood Turning Is Not a Winter Sport

Tonight’s post is specifically for my non wood turning readers. It’s mostly a show and tell piece.

The cars were moved in their weekly game of car chess. The garage was open and the wood turning machines had escaped from their cramped weekday storage as the sun belied warm weather beyond the concrete opening. It was time once again to turn, turn a plain, unassuming block of wood

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Roughing gouge, fingernail bowl gouge, parting tool, carbide tip scraper, parting tool, and spindle gouge.

20120305-211120.jpg Such strange new words to learn, and this was just the select few for this particular piece. Some needing sharpening and honing a couple of times before the end. Ambrosia maple can be so unforgiving on chisels!

The block was first roughed until it became round. This was accomplished not by brute force alone, the excess wood had to be sliced away skillfully so as to prevent a major tear out, removing more wood in one pass than intended. This was so time consuming, but once round the creative process could truly begin.

“How thick do you want the walls, how tall do you want the sides, what kind of foot do you want?” my husband always asks these kind of questions once the block is round.

“Let’s see what happens,” I tell him and smile. I don’t know what I want, I just want to move with the wood and let it tell me what shape it needs to take. I am inexperienced, but eager to create.

He frowns. He has done this for years. He knows that once the wood comes off it’s too late to change your mind. He doesn’t want me to become disappointed by making a wrong choice that would lead to ruining this bowl, or worse, to losing the desire to continue to turn.

Through much discussion, debate, and pantomime of shapes we finally knew how we wanted the bowl to turn out and were ready to begin.

Six hours and a mound of saw dust and shavings later

20120305-214220.jpg I had a complementary piece to the ambrosia maple bowl I turned a few weeks earlier out of a thicker block of wood.

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The temperature never reached more than sixty-two degrees. Wearing a long sleeve shirt with my jeans and donning a thick long sleeve turning jacket to protect me against the flying shavings and clinging dust, you would think I was comfortable, if not too warm. Nope! It took nearly three hours in a heated house to thaw out my limbs!

Wood turning, wood bowl turning specifically, is not an instantly gratifying task, to be sure, but it is always worth the time you put into it.