Relearning Wood Working #3: Looking Back

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Blog entry by Dallas posted 02-06-2013 03:56 PM 2193 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Have I mentioned that I detest Home Centers? Part 3 of Relearning Wood Working series no next part

I started getting back into wood working when I remodeling RV’s and converting buses into motor homes.
I didn’t start out this way, mostly I was doing mechanical work, HVAC, Diesel engine/transmission swaps, raising roofs, etc. Pretty much anything to do with wrenches, torches, metal and other related paraphernalia.

On one job I had to tear out a fresh water tank installation and the farther I went, the worse the rot became.
It wasn’t anything to do with “Fine Woodworking” just replacing small walls, trim, flooring, subfloors and some cabinet sides.
I have always had a circular saw, I guess it was a hold over from my days doing house framing and finish work. (The saw I have now is a 35 year old Milwaukee that I bought at a yard sale for $10 and have been using for 30 years).

Anyway, it quickly became evident that I needed a more accurate saw to repair the damage from this water tank leakage. I didn’t need much so I looked around and bought a Ryobi BTS-10.
For what I was doing, this little saw worked fine. I could set it up in small spaces, haul it easily and if it got banged up it didn’t matter too much.

Later I discovered I enjoyed working with the wood and about the same time found that I was becoming more and more disabled with every passing year, unable to lift nearly as much as I could before, unable to handle my 1” drive torque wrench, (I couldn’t even manipulate it comfortable anymore), unable to lay on my back and replace engine bearings, or transmission valve bodies, etc.

I decided I would start building little stuff and focus on the design and remodeling of the interiors of RV’s. This worked pretty well until about 2008 when a lot of people ran out of excess cash to pay for toys and upgrades.

We finished our last job on a Bus conversion in Oklahoma and the wife got online looking at other options for us to make a living wage and have a place to live.
She found us a gig as RV park managers at a small park in Central Texas so we boggied on down to see if it was a good fit.
When we got here, we found the male owner had to go in to be treated for bladder cancer and was just waiting for us.
Although we had doubts about this place from reviews by other former managers, townsfolk and RV’ers who had stayed here, we took the job and figured we wouldn’t last more than about 6 months.
That was on January 28th 2009. We have been here ever since.
There were a lot of ups and downs along the way. We had to fight it out with the owners to actually let us be the managers. The wanted to control everything we did. We put it that if they wanted park workers, they could hire locals for a lot less than what they payed us. If they wanted managers, let us do our jobs.

We found that once we got the place into shape there really wasn’t much to do everyday, especially with the drought that we’ve been in.
I got out my old table saw, and found a bunch of used wood at the owners shop. I repurposed a lot of the wood into stuff for the park and had a lot of fun doing it.
I started cutting up an old dead Osage Orange tree into lumber, but after about a month burned up my Ryobi. ($99 saws are not built to make lumber).
I eventually got a better saw, (Ryobi BT3100-1) that was nearly new and was impressed with how accurate it was.
I soon found I needed a bandsaw and picked up an old used 1 1/8HP, 12” Craftsman that needed some work. Not long after that I needed a planer so I cheaped out and bought a new Porter Cable….. and got rid of it about 3 weeks later. A fellow here on LJ’s gave me his Craftsman planer with a granite bed and another fella offered me his Delta 22-580. I use the craftsman for finish cuts on soft woods and the Delta, after replacing a bunch of parts, use as my heavy duty planer.
I soon ran into a problem with assembly table space, so I built one that I could sit at and work.
I also got a drill press, various routers, sanders, etc.

Finally I was tasked with taking down a lot of our dead/hazardous oaks, elms and other trees killed by bugs and the drought. I hated tossing tons and tons of firewood on the burning pile so I bought a chainsaw and chainsaw mill and now harvest some lumber here and there.

It’s been a long four years, but I suppose it has been a fruitful time. My skills at wood working are returning more and more all the time, I’m able to keep depression at bay mostly, and I must say that in general I am very happy.

This was all due to finding a place where we fit in and feel at home, (Although that may not last much longer due to some health issues the owners are having). It was also due to finding a home here at Lumberjocks.
You people, in general, put up with my stupid questions, and lead me into temptation to get new skills and new tools everyday.

Life could be worse.

Thanks All, even the ones who have me on ignore!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

8 comments so far

View cosmicturner's profile


403 posts in 3728 days

#1 posted 02-06-2013 04:16 PM

I think you should consider getting a lathe and start turning, that is my two cents…firewood works great on the lathe

-- Cosmicturner

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2819 days

#2 posted 02-06-2013 04:26 PM

For the moment I can’t get too many more tools.

My boss has offered me his 30X60 shop to move into with my wood working, but in order to use it I’ll need to put up insulation, HVAC and some walls for different sections like finishing, green lumber storage, general work area, bathroom and a clean place to take a nap, LOL.

I haven’t got the money for all that lumber right now so I’ll keep my eyes open for old houses to salvage.

Then I can build up my toys, ummm, tools TOOLS even more!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View LittlePaw's profile


1571 posts in 3411 days

#3 posted 02-06-2013 06:09 PM

AT least you have a 30×60 building to start! I have a 12×36 shed, but that turned out to be too small for my work, so I’m back in my 2-car garage. I did move all the non wood working and household stuff into the shed so I do have a little more walk-around room. Good luck with your plans, Dallas. I like your attitude and outlook in life. May the good Lord bless you and yours richly.

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View Grandpa's profile


3262 posts in 3008 days

#4 posted 02-06-2013 11:04 PM

Thanks for the post Dallas. We all evolve and who knows where we are going or might be in a few years. Great story.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2819 days

#5 posted 02-06-2013 11:13 PM

Paul, my present shop is a half of our house that use to be a recreation hall for the park. It’s plenty large, 18X38, at least it was before the wife started storing everything that didn’t belong in the house over there.

Yes, Grandpa, we all do evolve, and that’s why I’m trying to work on this little blog every so often, to see where I’ve come from and to see where I’m going.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Grandpa's profile


3262 posts in 3008 days

#6 posted 02-06-2013 11:24 PM


View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3022 days

#7 posted 02-07-2013 02:37 AM

I too kind of “backed into” my passion for woodworking after building bits and spurs for a lot of years. I really enjoy the problem solving and it keeps me busy, which is important to me.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View SirSeth's profile


85 posts in 2558 days

#8 posted 02-09-2013 01:51 AM

I just read your short story above. It’s great to hear that you are keeping busy and finding some peace in wood work. Hope the relations with the owner holds or that you are led to greener pastures. Good leadership/management can make such a difference to peace of mind. So can service and a good hobby. God bless and keep up the great work.

-- What if the hokey pokey really is what it's all about?

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