Musing of an Old Geezer #4: Play it Forward!

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Blog entry by GnarlyErik posted 09-01-2017 10:10 PM 1259 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: How the Germ of a Little Idea Becomes an Entire Fleet of Little Boats! Part 4 of Musing of an Old Geezer series no next part

When I was a kid around seven or eight, entertainment choices were a lot slimmer then than now. Like many boys back then, I would gather a few scraps of wood, ‘borrow’ my dad’s hammer, get my hands on a few nails and ‘make’ something. No design, just start nailing things together with a decidedly nebulous idea of what I was actually making. But, everyone has to start somewhere right?.

Today it seems that many kids that age are obsessed with iPad and computer games, or ‘socializing’ on the net, and spend a lot of time with their electronic toys. I worry about that a little, but I’ve noticed a lot of them are into sports too, both boys and girls. So it’s not all doom and gloom for the rising generations. And, to be fair, there seems to be a lot of creativity – the kind I don’t really understand – in the younger generation’s electronic worlds. More power to them, I say. Creativity is bound to be good, wherever it lives!

And, there are still some who are drawn to the creative world of making real things with their own hands out of real, tangible materials. Out of a total of seven grandchildren, I have two who love to paint, and one – lo and behold – who actually likes making things out of wood! Just wow!

(One of several self-loading slingshots I made for grandkids and others)

Sure, Legos and such things are creative and fun, like the simpler Erector sets of my youth, but that’s not quite the same as making something from scratch, now is it? This is not to detract from anyone who enjoys such things at all. The different motivations people are inclined to, make me think of the statement once made by Dave Hunter of Gibson Guitars:

“Sometimes a piece of wood just doesn’t want to be a guitar … it wants to be a park bench.”

I love that statement – it packs so much into a simple sentence!

My woodworking grandchild is ten now, and I’m encouraging him all I can. I can see the light in his eyes when he’s in that creative groove. I’ve given him some simple hand tools and clamps, a new scroll saw, a few books and some materials to work with. His mom tells me he can now often be found blazing away at various projects in his basement on weekends, usually with a buddy or two at his side. His mother understands that he may nick, cut and hurt himself a bit at times, but she also understands that is part of learning.

I have also provided the grandkids who like to paint with whatever I can think of to encourage them with their creativity.

I am trying to do my part to ‘play it forward’ as they say. And, the reason for this blog entry is to encourage others to do the same if they are not already doing so. You may never know what young creative talent you can light a fire under unless you do something to encourage it!

My dad did this for me and my siblings when we were young, and two out of seven of us kids ended up making careers out of creating real, tangible things. I am most thankful today for his encouragement and foresight. He was a very creative man himself, and certainly did his part and more to play things forward.

There is no better therapy for me in all the world, than being in my little wood shop making something. Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without this wonderful outlet. Calmness and serenity usually reigns – unless I pinch my finger with the hammer of course.

When I was about nine, my dad gave me a nice little Stanley coping saw and simple Millers Falls carving tool set – six small hand chisels in all. I still have five of them and the now ragged-out cardboard box they came in originally. One – my favorite little gouge – has tragically disappeared somehow. The coping saw is also gone, although I’ve replaced it with a newer one. I also still have the well-worn Stanley smoothing plane he gave me when I was about twelve, and it is still one of my favorite go-to tools. I’ve lost track of how many replacement knives I’ve put into it – and keep a couple on the shelf just in case they decide to no longer make them. And like many old woodworkers, you also can learn how to make things, tools, blades, knives, chisels, etc. that you can no longer buy.

One big problem is, all those nice American made hand tools we took for granted fifty and sixty years ago are no longer available unless you can find one in the ‘vintage tool’ category somewhere, and/or are willing to pay Big Money. Even though once common tools may bear the original makers’ names, today they are now almost all made in China or elsewhere overseas, and are much inferior in quality, oft times dreadfully so.

You can still find high quality hand tools of course if you are prepared to part with a substantial amount of money. Many are European made, German & English especially, but a surprising amount are still made in the US too.

This is not a comprehensive list, but here are some of the better known quality tool makers and sellers in the US:

(Note: Even though listed here, it does not necessarily signify that everything they sell is of top quality!)

Garrett Wade:

Highland Woodworking:

Lie-Nielsen Toolworks:
(Full disclosure – this is my brother’s business)


Woodcraft Supply ;

Woodworkers Supply:

-- "Never let your dogma be run over by your karma!"

3 comments so far

View NormG's profile


6507 posts in 4116 days

#1 posted 09-02-2017 02:42 AM

Glad too hear one of them enjoys woodworking, but you never know there may be others, sometimes kids do not like to be out done

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View shipwright's profile


8724 posts in 3910 days

#2 posted 09-02-2017 04:45 AM

You are a good man Erik. Great blog and wise words.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4689 days

#3 posted 09-02-2017 01:52 PM

Enjoyed your blog, Erik Thanks for sharing your wonderful thoughts, they are so true.


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