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Studio, last night

I just woke up from another afternoon nap. I, the slumbering giant, at least in my dreams. This has been happening a lot since the move of the Studio ended last Tuesday. About two months of loading and packing and lifting and worry and little sleep. I’ve been thinking of changing my Studio logo to a pillow instead of a chisel. Maybe a pillow and a lounge chair recumbent. Man oh man I have been sleeping on and on since the move. I was going to say sleeping like a log but I make sounds when I sleep. What is the sound of one log in the forest deeply snoring?

Many many many thanks go out to all who helped me during this difficult time. Jessie who was there to the very last sweep. And Marc and Angie and Moll and Big Bob M. My gratitude goes out to Ed the rigger, and whistlin’ Ron and Mark the lumber stackers, Chris the laborer and lumber grabber, Ken and his quick rescues. Jeff for his repairs in the nick of time. Jimmy and David and Brendan and Joe who carted and sifted through things small and giant. My gratitude to Erika and Shea the sawyers and Joe who got me moving that first big pile of wood. Thanks to Dr. Tom who peeked out from time to time from his own labors and grabbed so many things I didn’t want to move. Jim’s efforts were much appreciated driving so far as he had to each day. Thanks to Laurie and Adam. Ro helped out even when he could not and Keith was huge, just huge, in his efforts to make sense of all the chaos for me along with big Blake. Ray and his son and friend took a large load to the Blanchet Farm which was appreciated by all at both ends.

My thanks to Aaron at the Rebuilding Center for opening their doors to my many “donations”, some great, some well “please take this.” Alberto was very understanding when he opened up his recycling truck. I would point at something and he would just nod and then pick it up. The good Dr. G. came by to relieve me of the veneer I had carefully stored for the past 15 years. Jubal saved one day after another with his forklift as did Joe and Joe when they took out one of my saws. Joe even showed me how to band up my lumber piles. It took me 20 minutes to band the first one so carefully. By the time Jubal was busting another band pushing the loads inside the shipping container, I could put a band around one in two minutes no problem. Learning curves. Huge efforts made by all to help me, the blithering idiot who walked around to look at the dismantling of this little empire into piles of wood and blankets of dust and piles of boxes blanketed with dust. Bobby actually changed colors that day he dismantled the plywood rack there was so much dust on it and then him. Huge effort. Karl just about gave me his farm.

My deepest gratitude goes out to so many who helped me during this time of madness and escape, this time of necessary change and the sadness it brought to me beyond my tears. It was a huge task, gargantuan, and I thank all those who came by to help or to say good-bye, although I am not going anywhere. It’s just time for a new version of me. It happens. Every 24 years or so I make some big changes and this was one where I really needed help to get out the door. Thank you. [Note to benny: Gargantua is a giant and character in Rabelais’ 16th century satiric poke at religious institutions and superstitions and lawyers. Seemed apropos to me to use this as a title.]

Here’s a story. It’s about big equipment movers. They are a different type.

So I bought a shipping container to store my lumber in. Four banded piles of wood that measured about 3500 board feet of material. That and the other 1500 bf we stuffed in between those two piles and the benches I kept and some other boxes of wood filled, almost, this shipping container. It sat in the street next to the Studio and had been brought there by a power lifter. Man this guy had giant arms and a dragon or griffin or something nasty kind of tattoo crawling out of his too small shirt up his neck. Next to him sat a sweet if very large bull dog in the shotgun position of his large tow truck. The bull dog I could get to smile. The power lifter asked me where I wanted the container and he was precise about this because he promised me, “Where the back end of it is now, that’s where it goes.”

I gulped and moved him back a few feet more to save my tired knees some steps. He tipped the back of his tow truck bed up and let the container hit and he pulled away and dropped the steel box exactly where he said. I smiled and said thank you and he drove off.

Once loaded, and I have to stop right here to point out how funny language can be. It took hours of labor to do this task of loading and in two little words I describe it: Once loaded. Anyway, I’ll spare you the pain of that and tell you about the next mover. This new power lifter showed up with a side loader. The other power lifter had a flat bed tow truck. This new guy Jeremy had a truck that picked the box up from the side. I opened the doors of the container to show him what it held. Jubal and I had run numbers on the weight of various species of wood the night before and had finally come to the erudite conclusion that the dang container held a heavy number. What that number was would be determined by whether or not Jeremy and his truck could lift it without falling over.

That’s what Jeremy said, plus he said it would be close, so I stood in the street praying to the patron saint of heavy things, St. Groan or St. Grunte. I get them confused. I just know they’re French.

So I was all loaded with wood. I was there by 7am stuffing pillows of blankets and foam and wedges to keep the piles that didn’t quite reach the doors hoping to keep them from shifting. I checked my straps.

Jeremy shows up and parks his truck next to the box and looks up at the wires in the street and I asked him, “We okay?” He grunted. Either that or he was praying. Jeremy said, “They didn’t give us much room up there.” I’m thinking oh crap I never thought of the wires overhead getting in the way.

But Jeremy forgot about the problem and moved some levers and put out his two load stabilizers. These long arms stretched out from the truck into the street on both sides. Then he dropped these two arms with straps and hooks on their ends and each hook has a ball like a big metal fist on it. These things he drops down with his magical levers until they hit the pavement next to these holes in the bottom of the steel box. He puts these fists into the holes. Four holes, four fists. Then he goes back to the lever and moves one to put some tension on the first strap and then to the second he does the same and the next thing I know he has the sucker lifted off the ground. It moved! The truck didn’t tip over! I was so relieved. He raised it up and put it on the truck no problem and told me he would be headed up Hwy 14 on the other side of the river.

I finished loading and strapping down my pick-up and got onto the freeway headed east. About 45 minutes later I am cruising along when I see this cool looking truck. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen on the highway before. It has these big arms on it that are painted red and a big steel box on it, and hey I realize, that’s my container. Jeremy didn’t go down the other side of the river and sure enough I pass him by and the phone number I get is close enough to his that I can half read it as I blur by the rest. But that’s my load.

We get up to my place and Jeremy backs up to the spot where I want the container set and really there was nothing to it. He lifted the steel box and set it down. He asked me, “Is this good?” I had to admit that well really no, it was a few inches out of line and could he move this 7 ton box over just a squish? Jeremy grabbed onto his levers and moved the container over like he was moving a baby over in a cradle. I couldn’t believe it. Perfect.

I told him right then and there and he allowed himself a quick small smile when I did, I said, “I like watching someone who knows how to do his job well.”

I asked him then if I could put another container next to the first. And he said yeah if it was empty. Oh well. I’ll fill this one container up once I figure out what’s in all the packed boxes.

So a simple word to the wise: purge your shop every year to make it lighter. And get folks to help you when you need. I had to stop thinking that I can always do everything myself. I can’t. I needed help. I thank you for it. It meant the world to me. Gargantuan help.

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Splinters with Gary Rogowski - The Northwest Woodworking Studio Podcast

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Online Mastery Program

Please take a moment to listen the current podcast of It’s Wood with Daniel Carter. In it Gary and Daniel discuss the new Online Mastery Program starting this January. Here’s the link to It’s Wood.


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A few comments about our Online Lectures and Workshops.

“I just wanted to drop a quick note to say thank you for the class this week. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot! Hoping to sign up for another one soon. This morning I threw a Hock blade and breaker in my Bailey #4. Wow, you weren’t kidding about the difference. It’s a whole new tool now.” Zach

” I loved the inlay class, and was amazed how quickly those skills could be learned in the online format.” Colin R.

” I appreciated the “close up” photos that you showed a couple times during the 5 machines episode. I especially like your insights and tips. Keep them up!” John K.

“This was my first virtual Woodworking class and I had my doubts as to how it would work out. I was pleasantly surprised that the class was interesting and useful, well worth the time and 25 bucks. Also, good to have a look inside your shop.” Dale T.

“I wanted to give a personal thank you to Gary and everyone involved in the hand planes webinar. I was learning and smiling the whole way through. Truly an amazing job!” Casey T.

“Thank you Gary for the fine session. I really enjoyed it. I thought the online training via Zoom really went well, like I had a front row seat. I love hand planes and learned some good tips last night. Your use of props was good and like I said, I found it very informative and organized. You know your stuff.” Rick W.

Join Gary on a Question & Answer Session on YouTube

Methods for Taming Tear Out

Gary answers a reader and student’s question about taming tear out by changing the angle on a chip breaker. Sometimes you have to also adjust your hand plane to accommodate this modification. Change your plane’s frog position, file a wider mouth opening or file the chip breaker to adjust to the blade better.

Watch it here