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For those of you who are still here (both of you!), be sure to update your feed readers and bookmarks, as I’ll be moving from this URL to adventuresinwoodworking.wordpress.com next month.

Thanks!

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Hi Eric, thanks for agreeing to this interview. I know you don’t accept many interview requests.

Thanks. Yeah, this is the first interview I’ve given since starting my blog five years ago. Adds to the mystique, you know?

Umm, yeah. Anyway, so what have you been up to lately? Your blog has been kind of dormant.

Well I spent a few months in the States last winter, and got to take a couple woodworking classes. I went to an intro carving class at Woodcraft, and bought a couple gouges so I could try carving when I returned to Malaysia. But the highlight was attending Roy Underhill’s “Making the Mystery Mallet” class at his Woodwright’s Shop.

Do you have any pics?

Glad you asked! Here’s one:

Nice mallet!

Yeah, I’m just happy mine didn’t blow out on me when I put it all together. I was pretty nervous as it was labeled as an “intermediate” class. But even if it did (blow apart), I took the class for the experience more than for the mallet.

So what else is new? You’ve been back in Malaysia for several months now. What have you been building?

Not too much. Now that my workbench is done, it’s been strangely hard to motivate myself to get some shop time in! Maybe it’s just that the workbench consumed me pretty much for several years, and I feel a bit aimless now. But I have bought the stock to make my daughter a loft bed, and have slowly gotten the gears turning on that project.

So we’ll be seeing a lot more activity on this blog now?

I don’t think so. It’s been a good run here, but I think I’ll probably blog much less frequently, even if I do a lot of woodworking. I’ll probably let my domain name go and just keep this blog open at adventuresinwoodworking.wordpress.com. And I’ll keep posting on Lumberjocks if I have new projects or pics.

Great! Good luck to you.

Thanks!

Every other week or so, my wife says, “So when do you think you’ll do some more work on the bench?” And I sigh, slump, and say, “I dunno…”

I’m just in a funk with this hand planing. I can’t seem to motivate myself to do it. Granted, I typically don’t get much shop time in a week anyway (even if I wanted it), but the times when I could get some in, I just balk. It seems like there is still so much material to take off the top to get it flat AND level.

I don’t even feel like blogging about it. Which is why I am. I’m hoping that getting it out there will in some small way give me a push towards moving forward. My guess is that one or two more good sessions on the bench will get me close enough that the light at the end of the tunnel will be bright and near, and the rest would be easy.

So there you have it!

First of all, I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

You know you’re really into woodworking when it’s all you think about. I’ve had times, usually when I’m planning or working on a project, when woodworking is the last thing on my mind before bed and the first thing when waking up. Especially as a neanderthal with a limited setup, it seems like mental preparation is 80% of what I do.

As we geared up to return to the States from Malaysia for a four-month visit, my woodworking came to a halt, and with it, my daydreaming about all things wood. Even if I might have had time to go buy the wood for my bench, it’s hard to get myself out there to do it when I know I won’t be starting the project for 6 more months. And sharpening? Pshhh. Those dull tools will still be there when I get back.

We’re now about 6 weeks out from our return to Malaysia. And you know what? The daydreams are back. The Roubo is re-forming itself in my mind, and I find myself going over once again the double-tenoned legs, the leg vise, lamination, and yes, even re-thinking my original decision not to have a tail vise. I’m also thinking about maybe throwing a few threaded rods through my entire laminated top, to assist my substandard clamps in glueup, and to help hold it together in general.

I’m mentally preparing myself for sharpening as soon as we return. Because I won’t start another project until I build a bench. And I won’t start the bench until all my chisel and plane blades are sharp.

Meanwhile, I’m accumulating my last (last? ha!) tools off eBay and the Old Tools list while I still can. I’ll be bringing back with me a #7 plane, a new (old) chisel, a generously-donated Lufkin folding rule, and hopefully a rabbet plane, drawknife and maybe a router plane! Of course, my luggage allocation is shot.

I still haven’t made that visit to my lathe buddy, and I’m still waiting for St. Roy’s email about his fall class schedule. But there’s still time!

I’ve been back in the U.S. now for about 3 weeks, and it’s been great. For those of you who are Facebook friends, you’ll know from my status updates that I and my family have been experiencing a fair bit of reverse culture shock. Not only are things here different than in Malaysia, but some things are also different from the way we remember them in 2007 when we were here last! It’s also been fun to reacquaint (or acquaint, in the case of our baby) our children to their home country. Whether or not they consider it home, that’s another issue…

So what am I going to do with my time woodworking-wise while I’m here? Well, to answer the first question you may ask, no I didn’t bring back any tools. Our stay is only four months long, and considering the average length of time it takes me to finish a project, who are we kidding here? I actually had packed up all my plane blades and waterstones, but at the last minute changed my mind, realizing that I most likely would never get around to sharpening during our time here. I also forgot to bring along my big rotting wooden screw (dang!), so Bill, you’re off the hook for helping me put a new head on it!

So here’s what I hope to do during our brief time here:

  • Go to the Canton First Monday Trade Days. It’s a whopping big (they say the largest in the world) flea market held once a month. It’s apparently been in operation since the 1850s! We’ll be in Dallas next month and Canton’s just an hour east. I’ll go with my dad, who lives about an hour east of Canton. I don’t have a big shopping list – I mostly just want to see what can be gotten and for how much. I do want to find some mortise chisels at the very least.
  • Attend one of Roy Underhill’s classes at the Woodwright’s School in North Carolina. I’ve emailed St. Roy a couple times but a fall schedule has still not been released.
  • Pop in on some fellow woodworkers’ shops to see what they’re doing and to try new things. Among some of the new things I hope to experience are using stationary power tools for the first time! I’ve never so much as used a table saw before. I also hope to try out a lathe and practice a little turning.

So if I could do all of those things, I think that I could say that my time here in the States was well used. My blogging here may not be very frequent (as you may have gathered!), but I’ll blog as I accomplish my goals above, or if anything else woodworkingy happens to me.

Has it seriously been almost 2 months since my last post? Sheesh, get with it, Seidlitz.

One of the things I was most looking forward to during our 4-month visit to the States was attending the Woodworking in America (WIA) conference – specifically, the Hand Tools one that’s coming up in October. Well, I’m sorry to say I won’t be able to attend after all. While I think it’d be awesome to rub shoulders with some of the heavy hitters in the woodworking and blogging world (many of whom I now consider friends), the price tag is just a bit too steep for me. I figure it’d cost me somewhere around $500, including lodging. That’s power tool expensive, dude.

So instead, I’ll save some of that money and use the rest to visit some yard sales and flea markets, visit some of my woodworking buddies in Virginia (and maybe Texas), and hopefully attend one of St. Roy’s classes in North Carolina.

All in all, not a bad trade-off. But I’ll miss y’all!

When going through marathon training (I ran three in 2001 and hope to run another in December of this year), one thing that you should always incorporate is cross-training. Typically one day a week, do something other than running to perhaps develop supporting muscle groups, or at least to give your body a little variety.

While I’m not too sure how much it will “develop supporting muscle groups” for my woodworking, I have picked up a new hobby. Thanks to a birthday present from my parents in celebration of turning 40, I took an Open Water scuba diving course and am now a certified diver!

But while scuba diving is as much a hobby as woodworking, the two couldn’t be more different. And I don’t just mean that you can’t build furniture underwater (your coral workbench would just snap right in two). What I mean is that woodworking is a productive hobby. You can’t take up the hobby of woodworking for very long before you produce SOMETHING tangible. Of course, it may take a little longer before you produce something that will actually last, but that’s another issue. If you’re a woodworker who doesn’t have anything to show for it, then you’re really just a tool collector (another hobby).

Scuba diving is entirely unproductive. But being unproductive doesn’t mean it’s useless. It’s just that the things you get out of scuba diving are internal, entirely for you. It enriches your own personal soul, enhances your appreciation of God and his creation, and gives you some memories and perhaps stories. But other than that (unless you have an underwater camera), you have nothing really to show for it.

I think I like that this hobby is so very different from woodworking. Honestly, my time on the islands entirely wiped the Roubo from my brain. That’s good. My slate is clean, and as I start planning again, I’ll be more fresh and will be able to think more clearly.

Until last week, I had never read Woodworking Magazine. It first hit the press when I was already in Malaysia, and I never ran across it during my time in the States in 2006-7.

But when my Shortcut on cutting curves without a bandsaw got accepted for the Spring 2009 issue, I got a free one-year subscription. I got my first issue – along with Winter 2008 – the other day.

Wow.

I had read woodworking magazines before, but as a neanderthal was always put off by the powertoolcenteredness of the articles. The team of editors over at WM (not just Chris Schwarz!) have clearly decided to give the hand tools enthusiasts a bit more to work with, while still letting the majority of you know how to tackle the project with power tools as well.

Literally every single article (of the two issues I have seen) are either directly relevant or at least informative to me. Recently I went through all the woodworking magazines I had, and found myself saving one or two articles out of each – throwing the rest away. Not with WM!

I’d be curious to know how you blended or power tool woodworkers feel about WM. I admit that my enthusiasm for it stems mostly from the fact that I’m a neanderthal apprentice hungry for instruction, tips, techniques, etc. from any source I can find. And I’ve been plenty frustrated in the past by magazines and books that don’t even seem to know people like me exist.

I’ve been a blogger since 2004 (this is my third or fourth), but I’ve never been one to track blogging milestones. But today when I logged into my WordPress dashboard, I saw that I had written 99 posts on Adventures in Woodworking. So hey, 100 posts! And I’ve received 274 non-spam comments here, so that’s a pretty good return, I’d say!

But my main reason for posting today was to talk about the big news: We have a house! We put down the deposit yesterday, and today I took possession of the keys. This is fantastic. In our 10 years as a couple, we’ve never had a place to really call home. We’ve moved 12 times in our 10 years of marriage (counting places where we’ve stayed at least two months). The longest we’ve ever stayed at one place was 1 year and 9 months. And while we still will go back to the States every couple years or so, we’ll maintain this place so there’ll always be “home” to come back to.

And the big ramifications of this event is that at last, I can invest my time and energies into having a workshop! Like most places we’ve been, my space will be very limited. Fortunately, though, for a neanderthal like myself I only need a couple dozen square feet and I’m set. :^)

We’ve identified the area that would be best for my workbench (my wife has very graciously included “proper shop space” into our wishlist when househunting), and I’ll have pics later. I’ll be in the kitchen, but really – it’s better than it sounds!

So now I’m planning my bench. For the longest time I had dreamed of a Roubo, but gave that dream up recently and switched to the idea of a Japanese bench like The Schwarz profiled on his blog. But now, I’m thinking that the Roubo would really be ideal, so I’m thinking about it during every spare moment.

We’ll start moving non-essential stuff this weekend and next week, and then after I return from an out-of-town trip next week, we’ll complete the move. Then I can get started on my bench! Oh, after I see if I can complete the Sawdust Chronicles challenge

Now that the Lego Table is done, I have decided that I really can’t take on any more projects until I sharpen my tools. I think my sharpening skills are pretty decent, although I recently learned of some things I could do even better. As a result, my decent sharpening of long, long ago has kept my tools sharp enough to justify (in my head) an insane level of procrastination.

But can you blame me? I get a few hours of shop time a week, if I’m lucky. If I have a project in the works, do you really think I’d want to use that time to sharpen my tools? Nahh…I’ll just push that plane a little stronger, and bang on those chisels a little harder. (I think I just heard a few people gasp.)

So that’s it. No more projects until the chisels and planes are sharp. This will result in one of two things:

  1. I will get those tools sharpened the next time I’m in the shop.
  2. I will never work wood again.

In the meantime, I did allow myself one mini project, with the justification that I wasn’t using a tool that needed sharpening (my ryoba). My son had been wanting a card holder for when we play games, so I thought I’d knock one out for him (and one for his younger sister, while I’m at it).

Nothing fancy, just a long rip cut in a small board. It was much harder than it looks, though, using a 9-10″ ryoba to cut a slot in a board that was about 14″ or so. I think if I had a large rip-cut saw it would have been much easier – but then again, the kerf would have been much thicker. The kids are going to paint them and then I’ll finish ’em with varnish.

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