Saturday, March 17, 2012

My fetish for olde things....

So I purchased today a new-to-me Parks "12 Planer for my home wood shop.

A Parks Planer is a popular old tool for tinkerers and woodworkers to restore. The design is simple and proven, starting sometime in the 1930s and produced under the Parks and Craftsman label until the early 80s. The one I laid my hands on today is probably from the 50s or 60s, looking at the design; that is just a guesttimate, pending investigation.

So what on earth did I buy an olde tool for, when I could go to Lowes and plunk the same amount of cash on a quality new one? Well, my reasons are numerous, but it all amounts basically to this: they just don't make them like they used to. The old iron on vintage tools is usually pretty awesome. The designs are simple and effective. Many were made in the USA and to stand the test of time.

Old tools, machinery, and cars, IMO, carry with them the allure of ages gone by. They are monuments to the past, a testimonial, for better or worse, to the attitudes, feelings, and culture of those that used and created them.

It's not that I needed another project. I have plenty. Enough to keep me busy for as long as I'd like. The fact is, I love restoring things, bringing them back to life and honoring the "older" than me ways. You can't recreate the feelings of old things in new things. You just can't. New things are often disposable. Old things were meant to last, and can often be repaired.

Maybe I'm just hopelessly romantic regarding certain antiques. However, I take comfort in knowing that I'm not the only one who thinks in this way.

The gent I purchased the planer from had a house in 1980s old suburbia with a driveway and garage filled with old machinery for wood and metal working. He basically had a small path from his house to his garage, and the rest of the stuff was covered in tarps. Don't ask me where he got all this stuff. I think it finds him, but he had basically anything and everything one could ever want for a shop.

The seller, an engineer, was a really chill guy. He spoke with a slow southern draw, and I was saddened to hear that he was "between jobs." You could tell that he was an intelligent dude, who could basically do anything he put his mind to. He allowed me to test the planer and run a board of 100-year-old white oak, which the planer smoothed with relish. I was pretty surprised. I expected the planer to balk. I thought, "Damn, wow." We dropped the setting to take a larger bite, but that was too much, and likely would have been for the Grizzly I am accustomed to using as well.

After loading up, we chatted about his tool collection and additional country storehouse of old machinery. I told him I would hit him up in the future and we parted ways.

On the way, I had considered haggling, because I was unsure of what I was getting myself into with this old work horse, but when I saw that this man was good and honest and out of work, I thought better of it and decided to simply pay the fair price he had asked for the machine and head out. In doing so, I left like I had done the right thing, and may eventually give him a call back the next time I have a tool need.

All that said, I look forward to restoring this tool, as needed, and putting it to plenty of good use.

Over and Out,


Sunday, March 11, 2012

B to the W

I've been so busy, life's been a blur. Except today, Sunday 3/11/12. Today, I got it all in, more or less.

I woke up this morning to the sound of the phone ringing. Praying it was not work, I answered and discovered that the fence installer dude could get to me earlier this morning than had previously planned. Score. We went to mass the night before, so my Sunday was now going to be truly open.

We walked the property and talked guns. I am sure my sketchy neighbors saw me gesturing to their playset, which had strayed over my property line. It was removed shortly thereafter. We'll see what happens on getting a fence installed along with 3 gates, 2 four ft. and 1 twelve ft. There's lots of dips and corners to deal with on my property, so there are going to be numerous wooden posts (probably?) cemented and braced in the corners. I am hoping for a solid bid so I can get this done and be done with it, not to mention having a physical and psychological barrier to outsiders considering entering my property. Finally and most importantly, I need to keep my kids safe and away from the road. This is my greatest concern.

Brunch and homemade coffee followed, as I got my act together and began prepping for painting the rest of my kitchen. This project, like so many others, had been lingering for a long time. I have been the king of starting projects and not finishing them around here, though that trend has been changing. Anyway, in addition to cleaning the walls and trim and wet sanding drywall, I cleaned those areas of the kitchen that rarely receive attention.

Clare cooked an amazing brunch --her cooking skills rival that of the gods--and we jetted out to the Thompson Wilderness Wildlife area. Our end of the trail was pretty much deserted and we enjoyed time by a chortling creek and miniture waterfall. It was secluded and serene, and we were able to enjoy time by the water on one of the first really nice Springy days. Score.

We returned home after a scenic drive through Paris, Va. and stop at Martin's and Spelunkers'. At home I cleaned the porch, the yard, and split the remainder of the wood I had cut. Clare cooked Burgers and coleslaw to die for, and the peepers are peeping in chorus.

It's the beginning of Spring in Virginia. I have found that I live for this time. The weather is perfect, refreshingly cool and perfect for a cold beer and work on the house. Before we ate, I went outside and sat under my tree, where I will be installing a permeanant fire pit/sitting ring for summer nights by the fire. I sat to watch the remnant of the sun set over the mountain and see Jupiter and Venus shine in its place.

All I can say is, I hope I have days like this more often. Here's to liberty and getting things done!