Betty Duffy

Monday, March 15, 2010

Turn, Turn, Turn

My husband has purchased a lathe. It is the last tool he says he will ever have to buy, which is of course, what all the tools in his workshop have been. It started with a table saw, the gateway drug that led to a bandsaw that led to a planer, and a joiner and a dust collector. He gets the kids involved so that whenever a new tool arrives, they gather around while he unpacks it on the living room floor, as though it's a puppy or a new TV that only plays cartoons.

The lathe required several men to unload it off the truck and straight into the shop, and here the children stood on the sidelines, gawking at the arrival of their new step-sibling, the apple of their father's eye.

If they're good, if they go to bed without whispering to one another, or sneaking out of their beds for a book after lights out, he'll make them...a lathe toy!--one of his practice blocks (pictured above) where he tries out making coves, beads, and rings, working each type of chisel until it feels like an extension of his own hands.

It's always blown my mind how he's able to do this, take to a tool with no prior knowledge or experience and come out with furniture. His genius is in his hands, no doubt, but also in his willingness to work for nothing less than perfection.

His very first project, back when we lived in one half of a double bungalow, was a cd rack I asked him to stain Jacobean brown to match the woodwork. He bought a can of spray-on polyurethane and proceeded to finish and strip and refinish the cd rack no less than five times. I couldn't have asked for a better cd rack, but by the time I'd loaded up all my disks, he had decided to build an entertainment center to house not only CDs, but also the tv, the stereo and all the other bulky technology that took up half our living room back in the day.

From there, it was kitchen cabinets for the first house we bought: solid cherry, natural finish, shaker style, with top notch hardware. No other house in the neighborhood had such a grand kitchen, and when I drive past the old house at night, I can see them still gleaming from outside the kitchen window.

He has made other kitchens since then, built-in-bookcases, dressers, desks, kitchen tables, etc. And this lathe, he promises will ultimately culminate in lifting our mattress and boxsprings from their ten-year run in a pile on the floor, up to a lovely turned-post bed, the likes of which Odysseus could only aspire to make for his Penelope. I'll believe it when I see it. But I have said as much for every long-shot plan he's made, and so far, to my perpetual surprise, he has not failed to deliver.

I hope that one of these days he gets to quit his day job.


Margie said...

If I forwarded or read this post to my husband, he would want to meet your husband. We, too, have loads o' tools in the shed, which go for long stretches of collecting dust, then get used until they wear out. I had to get used to him when we were first married. My father is a reader, a scholar, without the foggiest idea about how to use a hammer or screwdriver. It was my mother who made sure the oil was changed on time in the cars, that the insurance company covered the new roof. So I was really bugged when New Hubby wanted to do everything himself.

Now, however, I've come to appreciate him. Just yesterday, he crawled under the 70-year-old pier-and-beam house, and found and fixed a leak. We were good to go after three hours work and $10 for materials. All I had to do was wash the muddy clothes.

I have come to believe, after almost nine years, that these kinds of hobbies are worthwhile and good.

this One's for the girls said...

My husband is a musician, with nary a handy bone in his body (unless you're talking about being handy with a baritone solo or a piano!).

Your post brought back lovely memories of the smell of sawdust -- my dad was handy, and my mom carves wood for fun (her specialities are wedding crosses for people she loves, and wooden shoes). Thanks for reminding me of that -- your kids will always remember their dad creating beautiful things.

Suzi said...

How amazing. God has blessed you exceedingly.

BettyDuffy said...

I am blessed indeed, Suzi. Writing about it helps me to remember it -- even after I've totaled up the dollar signs.

Margie, It is scary when these guys take a gamble on a project or a new tool--but it has payed off in the long run. He played golf when we were dating, and I have to say, I much prefer woodworking:
1. He's home
2. The kids can help him.
3. We get furniture.

Nancy, I love the smell of sawdust--never thought I'd be able to discern wood species by the smell, but he brings it in at night on his whiskers. I love it that your mom carves. I bought some carving tools thinking it would be something I could do in the workshop with him, but lost interest...very quickly. Maybe the kids will use them one of these days.

Margie said...

I should have added that I'll never let him read this post. If I do, he'll come home with a lathe. I'm not sure I'm ready for that, yet.

Hope said...

Oh, you made me chuckle.
Gateway drug. :)
My dad has always had a lathe in the basement. Sometimes we got to play on it and I loved the sound it made although today I would probably find it irritating because it can be so high pitched. My dad loves wood, too. When I was a teenager and cleaning out the basement woe to me if I threw any of it out. I am sure that the piece of cherry wood baseboard I wanted to throw away then is still standing there 30+ years later.