Monday, November 10, 2008

I Know What You Did Last Homie

Don't worry. Really, I don't know. The answer for me was nothing. I had a little too much fun at the Homie Pre-Party, a Halloween party hosted by Swervy. I arrived home around 7:30 in the a.m., oozing bodily fluid from my nose and still reeling from the merry-making.

I had a wee nip of scotch with my eggs for breakfast. Whisky for breakfast is okay as long as you offer it to all the guests. I went to sleep while April took the kids and drove her aunt to the airport. I dreamed of nothing while I napped. My nose stuck to the pillow.
When I awoke, April strongly urged me not to go on the ride. Can you pick out the diplomatically worded portion of the previous sentence? I saw the clock tick past the meeting time. An hour or so later my phone rang. "No, I don't think I'll be making it. You guys have fun," I told my friend. No Homie for me. My ambition was lagging anyway. I made peace with it. I've spent entirely too little time with the family lately and I suppose the last thing I really needed was another party.
So, what did I do instead of Homie? Well, apart from playing with the kids and hanging around having meaningful conversations with my wife (which included more than a couple of apologies for coming home bloody), I got to do something I might not have made time for because it isn't exactly one of those glamorous or "high-priority" tasks. [Insert voice of inner woodworking geek here:] I tuned my planes. Hand planes, that is. In about 6 hours' time over the course of the weekend I made it through all of my block planes and got a start on the bench planes.
What does this entail? The time consuming part is patiently standing over a sheet of sandpaper stuck on plate glass, methodically sliding the cast iron sole of the plane back and forth until all of the mill marks are removed and the surface is dead flat. This is accomplished by working up from 80 grit to 220 or so. Then, there's the honing, among other adjustments like sanding the japaning off the front lip of the lever cap. (That'd be the thick black paint in case you're wondering.)
I recently read that when you buy a run-of-the-mill Stanley/Bailey, Record or the like, you should regard it as little more than a kit full of parts. From there, if you care to get good results and want to truly enjoy using a hand plane, you need to sand, fit and sharpen. And it takes a while. Is it worth it? Yep. Almost everyone who's used a plane knows what it's like to use a dull, poorly adjusted one. However, the experience of paper-thin shavings floating lightly to the floor, the smell of resinous wood being worked with a fine blade, the sound of a sharp plane gliding through grain almost effortlessly -- all are beautiful. No electricity needed; no roar of a high-amperage motor; no particulate dust. It's wonderfully meditative work.

To all who went on Homie and had a kickass time, I'm happy for you. Now I gotta go wash my hands. Was that a metaphorical reference?

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