Sincere thanks to all who took the time to write and submit stories for the True Tales of Woodworking Contest held by Lost Art Press to celebrate the publication of their new edition of “Making Things Work: Tales of a Cabinetmaker’s Life. Several entries will be published over at https://blog.lostartpress.com in the next few days. I’ll be posting others (lightly edited) here over the coming weeks–they’re too good not to share. Check the Lost Art Press site this Saturday, February 1, for the winner!
A tale of two helpers, by Jesse Griggs
Pursuing my passion for woodworking with 2 toddlers has been a wonderful exploration into the unknown. Every time we set foot into daddy’s shop I never know what to expect. Sometimes my children play happily with their plastic “workbench” and tools. Other times they want to be right in the action and sit on my workbench snubbing their noses at everything but the real tools. Teddy, the oldest at three, usually asks for his favorite, a cheap unknown brand rattail rasp a friend gave me years ago when I first started in the hobby. “Be careful, that end is pokey,” I say. And off he goes widening the gouge he’s been working on in the same piece of scrap the past half-dozen visits to the shop. When not at the plastic bench, I usually find Henry, the younger at two, playing in the shavings on the floor at the back side of the bench.
Of course their favorite pastime is to find any and every box or jar of hardware, usually screws, and empty its contents all over the shop. Invariably they find holes I didn’t know existed in which to stuff these things. Once, I nearly had a heart attack when after hearing a metal clank, I realized they had stuffed several screws into the holes of my 8” jointer. Fortunately, after much weeping and gnashing of teeth and many stifled profanities, I managed to excavate the screws. The cherry on top came a few days ago.
Over Christmas break the boys managed to crack the porcelain sink in our bathroom. My wife and I never much cared for the pedestal style thing, but tolerated it well enough. We looked for a replacement cabinet off the shelf, but I couldn’t stomach looking at the garbage available, let alone allow one of those wood-shaped objects into my home. So, I set about building a new cabinet—Shaker style, Baltic birch carcase , mahogany face frame and drawer fronts, eight drawers, plus a pullout stool disguised as a drawer.
While I was installing the thing, Henry decided to come “help.” He absolutely loved climbing into the unfinished cabinet. Then, he found homes for his little people in the drawer slots. Soon after, he discovered the brand new box of drywall screws on the floor and emptied it—half on the floor. He was so proud of himself for putting the other half into a nice pile inside one of drawer slots that he pointed it out to me. I think it was all just a ploy to distract me from his true intent. I had been squatting on my knees examining something near the base of the cabinet when all of a sudden I felt a strange sensation. It was sort of like a pebble in my shoe, except it wasn’t in my shoe. Fearing the worst, I reached into the abyss and found a drywall screw lodged between my backside and under pants. In that moment, my two-year-old had discovered and exploited the plumber’s crack.