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January 14, 2021

I should let everyone know that I’m alive, well and happy. Still working on labels and everything else. There are all kinds of exciting things going on here! Masks! Hand sanitizers! Please be patient as I learn to use WordPress.

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Baby Grand

It took about nine days of hard work (rebuilding a deck) and a 1400 mile round trip, now Breda has a beautiful piano.

Piano in Living Room

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Oh! Hello again… Ready for an epic, public failure. Again.

There’s a reason that this journal is called at least 27 things, its actually an understatement. I often feel I’ve got a hundred irons in the fire.

A year has passed since I left my steady job at the printing company and so much has changed. You’ll find me a much happier, relaxed and optimistic person. Having control of your day to day life is generally invigorating. There is no one to stop you from working in the garden all day – except yourself. I manage to stay focused about 90% of the time – mostly because I’m determined to do this for 10 – 15 years. I’ve had my hands on nearly 600 packaging projects and the gardens look better.

I’d like to make writing a habit, a daily activity that I enjoy – so here goes – I’ll have a one day streak when this is posted! My problem, which is common, is that I’d like to do everything PERFECTLY- or not at all. That’s a terrible character flaw. Anything worth doing is worth failing miserably, repeatedly, publicly. 

My aspirations for year two of Bennett & Bennett involve handling more of the production aspects of product packaging and expanding my photographic capabilities, i.e. buying a high end digital camera and lens. I’m starting tomorrow by visiting a digital label printing facility in Sandusky, OH and paying for the cool, carbon graphite, camera tripod I found on sale.

That’s three RISKS in one day.  A lot has changed in a year and taking these risks assures that much will change in the year ahead. So… Welcome back! Stayed tuned. I’ll  ignore my fears and be back tomorrow.

  

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It’s official – I am self employed!

Work is easy when you like and care about the clients. Thanks to Paul – my first client – a great friend and inspiration.

First Dollar 091114

 

Can’t this go from new to old? Can’t this go from new to old? Can’t this go from new to old? Can’t this go from new to old? Can’t this go from new to old? Can’t this go from new to old? Can’t this go from new to old? Can’t this go from new to old?

Is it a new block? Yes.

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OKAY! I’m back… In search of the perfect 2×4.

2x4 quartersawn

For the past year or two, I’ve been building work tables using construction grade lumber. It’s become another obsession, searching the thousands of crap boards at Home Depot and Lowes. So, at the risk of creating competition for these rare gems – this is what I look for. You can look through every stack in the entire store and you’re lucky to find one quarter sawn 2×4 (2×6, 2×8, etc.).

Does anyone else do this?

I’ll post more on perfect 2x4s and the things I’ve built – SOON.

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All things carved…

There’s going to be a new family joke – every time I say Follansbee, everyone has to drink. My brother came up with this response after I’d referred to Bonnaroo (the music festival) for the 27th time in one weekend. Sure, I can be a little obsessive, but when you do something really cool, you want to talk about it.

I participated in a carving class last weekend at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking in Manchester, CT. It was well worth the 1,919.7 mile round trip to learn from a personal hero – Peter Follansbee. Everybody DRINK!

Here’s a link to his outstanding blog – and for the sake of sobriety, I won’t mention his name again.

http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com

The class was terrific – highly recommended. The Connecticut Valley school is offering many more. Whaaaaah!!! I wish it wasn’t so far away. Click for their class schedule.

I spent the following few days visiting my sister in Brookline, MA, highlighted by visits to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. I was in hog heaven – seeing so many examples of furniture with carved details. Here are a few shots of the MFA entry doors, massive with sunflower motif carved in the most delicious quartersawn oak I’ve ever seen (tasted?).

MFA BOSTON OAK ENTRY 2 2013 MFA BOSTON OAK ENTRY 1 2013

This jaw dropping oak cabinet is Dutch, from the early 17th century.

MFA BOSTON DUTCH CARVED DETAIL 2013 MFA BOSTON DUTCH CARVED CHEST 2013I

Seeing this, I was tempted to list my carving tools on Ebay, but I took a brave step and started into carving the drawer fronts on my current project – the massive work table. It looks pretty damn primitive in comparison – but, it’s a start. Stay tuned…

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Disston D-8 5pt Rip Saw

Disston D-8 5pt Rip Saw

Waxed, polished and very sharp.

One of my pet peeves is when people ask “what’s it worth?”

On the open market, the flea market or online auction, with a moderate coating of rust and dirt – this saw is worth less than a bag of groceries at Whole Foods. If I’d found it at a tag sale, I may have opened my wallet for ten bucks. In spite of my peeve, I catch myself computing the hours spent restoring a tool at a fair wage – say 8 hours x $20 an hour = $160. I consider the price of a top quality new tool; A Lie-Nielsen panel saw can be purchased for $225. This tool isn’t rare, but particularly attractive to me; pre WWII, 5 teeth per inch, filed for ripping, very nicely carved handle with thumbhole, no cracks in the handle or chunkers in the horns, straight blade, used but not abused. There was potential beneath the dirt and rust. It just needed some attention.

The value to me is more warm and fuzzy than U.S. dollars reflect. The satisfaction of a job well done, the potential for future furniture projects, the thoughtful meditation while restoring the tool, the idea that this saw’s history reaches beyond the grave. This saw brings back the dead, bringing memories of past owners, their care and aspirations are alive in my hands, in my shop. It’s impossible to quantify this inspirational value.

On top of that, the saw had belonged to the father of dear friends. That aspect makes this Ted Saw unique and one-of-a-kind. Sotheby’s or Christie’s appraisers would roll their eyes when I put the value at $10,000. I’d take $250 (if someone waved the cash), but I’d possibly donate it to an aspiring furniture maker.

Better yet, I’d recommend that the aspiring galoot hunt down a similar saw; Disston, Atkins, Warranted Superior, Peace or others – and create their own heirloom. It’s not rocket science and there are many excellent online resources. The satisfaction is priceless.

Start here: www.disstonianinstitute.com