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My Girl's Wedding

 

OK, not technically my girl, but my girl in real life.

Serena practically grew up in my house.  My dear friend's daughter.  I have known her since she was 5 at the outside.  Known her through most every good and bad time, a fine young woman now.

Well today she weds.  Naturally, we are not entirely sure her chosen man is quite good enough for her (has this ever in history happened??  :-), but she's willing and wants to marry and I want what she wants.

So, in casual conversation, quietly searching for what might make a difference in her life... tools were mentioned.  Well actually a vintage tablecloth in a soft and elegant pattern, a sewing machine and tools all were ferreted out.

The sewing machine is here, a vintage Singer freshly rebuilt and polished, will be given/installed later.  A vintage Singer sewing stitches so fine you can barely see them!  Looks like you draped a piece of thread across.  Kitty hunted down a lovely 1940's flower pattern tablecloth with a soft pallet. Not glaring, not super over girly (Seenie is no Daisy, she's no Daisy at all), but lovely and sturdy for everyday, just the same.  Tools were, of course, my department.

It comes up now and then what a bare minimum starter kit might have in it for someone just starting out.  Here is what I picked for her.  (The common ordinary modern stuff available anywhere I didn't try to do. Tape measure, pry-bar, utility knife, like that....)

There is a small bench hook not shown in this pic but visible installed in the tote, shown later. A bench hook is first priority in my experience.  It is the plain difference between being able to work and not being able to work at all.  Vises, dogs and holdowns are intrinsic to fine work of all kinds, but a bench hook opens the first door to being able to work at all.

Couple of good straight screwdrivers she can depend on when needs arises.  Phillips she can buy in town.  1/2" chisel, probably the most used size in my own arsenal.  She'll need a mallet. Something for her to make herself.  A 10 oz finish hammer. This one in fiberglass and rubber.  I expect her and Mike both will be trying to pull 16 penny nails before they figure out its more important to maintain a trim hammer, and a wood handle on a small finish hammer might only last 10 minutes.  This one maybe 28 minutes before they break it??

Carpenters pencils are nearly extinct.  It gives a person confidence to wield a real pencil.  They can be sharpened to any configuration on the fly and simply indispensable, to me.

A decent square. She doesn't need it, since steel combo squares are everywhere, but a person needs at least some special things, even to begin.  A well broken in, yet trued wood bodied try square is, at a basic level, something unmistakably genuinely real that nearly everyone can relate to.

A coping saw. Everyone has to have a coping saw. Its the first possibility of working curves a person learns. The world is going to steer her toward straight lines as hard as the power tool manufacturing community can push.  Big work, straight lines. This is the only mindset offered most places.  But nobody starts out wanting to make square boxes all their life.  Nobody.  Curves are an assumption in the child's mind, until you begin to see curves are not automatic and in the modern world they are even more challenging because of all the straight line producing tools offered.

A small handsaw for trim and cabinet work. 14" blade.  This one is freshly cleaned and sharpened and cuts like soft butter.  This style guard is the best I know of for a toolbox saw.  Easy to make and secure. slips on and off with ease.  I expect it to cut trim and small work with aplomb, and joint work substituting for a backsaw, coupled with the bench hook.

A block plane. Ordinary crude indestructible block for roughish work.  A more complicated plane would have been more versatile. But also more fragile. You don't send someone out in a Maserati for a first car, even if it does handle better.  Better a sturdy Chevy to make your mistakes with.

And a jack plane.  I picked a Defiance jack because it is the size of a junior jack but even lighter in the hands.  I had no experience with the Defiance line.  It was made as a cheap alternative, and it is.  But surprisingly capable once fettled and tuned.  I sharpened it jack/light scrub radius edge and was peeling curls with the greatest of ease trying it out.  For a first plane, especially for an 89 pound girl with fierce determination, I couldn't imagine better.

It all needed to be compact and portable.  Its her first real home and space is at a very dear premium.

No one can know if a person will develop appreciation for better work.   We all start out in a 2X4 construction world.  Most never progress past that.  You can't push, but you can sure as hell kick the door wide open and invite... as long as you do it stealthy :-)

yours Scott
August, 2009


 
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