To Lathe or not to Lathe; That is The Question?

Every time I have stepped into Grandpa’s woodworking shop it fascinates the curiosities inside the visual being that I am. This workshop holds a lifetime of stories and I’ve only been fortunate enough to glimpse into the belly of the beast upon occasion when the man whose hands have carved, crafted and produced thousands of woodworking pieces allows my energy into his space.

It’s a fascinating space with parts laying everywhere, tools strewn about on every surface and only the master of this workshop will know if something is out of place or not. His passion and soul sits in every nook and cranny of this shop. My eyes dance wildly from one tool to the next unsure what their purpose is? Uncaring and unyielding to the relentless hours of education he put into this craft.

The passion is only known when you are allowed to question the what is this piece of wood called? or what is this block of wood supposed to become? His humbleness will drive the average man crazy and my varied questions are probably doing the same to him. His mind an endless project of wood genius, origins of wood and grains.

His wood collection is immense nearing 5,000 pieces of wood drying in large chunks of trees, or flattened boards, or 1x1x4 feet rare pieces machined for an unknown project of the future. The wood inside the wood shop fills in the gaps between tools hidden in corners and laying about awaiting the day its used in the current project processing.

The soul of this sixty-six year old man can be felt within the confines of the wood shop.

The Woodshop

A few months back we were bugging him about if he’d consider providing lessons on how-to operate the lathe and some of the other woodworking tools? He informed he would think about it. Nearly two weeks later we were siting down for a family dinner when he popped the question to his eldest daughter (my wife) about if she would be interested in trying out the lathe again?

She didn’t respond right away, and I pipped in with a that sounds like fun, would you mind showing me how to use the lathe? He smiled then nodded his head in agreement of this unexpected question. “Perhaps we could do this on a Sunday? We’d have to do this as individual lessons. Are you two okay with that?” We both nodded in agreement.

We set the stage for the following Sunday as long as his wife didn’t have plans for him. We would meet him at 10:30am and finish around Noon. We’d break for lunch than his daughter would have the afternoon lesson from 1:00pm to 3:30pm.

The reasoning for the sudden interest we learned was his youngest daughter was timid of the big old Oneway 1640 lathe informing it was too powerful for her and she would not be interested in using it once her father had passed away.

During our initial discussion I had to inform him that back when I should have been exploring every opportunity presented during junior and senior high school, like auto and wood shops I strayed away from those areas of the building and found myself putting in copious amounts of hours in the drafting room on architectural projects as well as hiding in the photography dark room reproducing black and white film images onto grainy Kodachrome paper.

He simply smiled and informed lesson # 1 would be an eye-opener.

~ Aaron JacksonCrabb