Saturday, December 22, 2012

BLOG: The reason for the season... JUNK MAIL!

There's nobody on this earth I like enough to buy a $2000 tool for as a gift, I don't care what the ads in my mailbox say. This week's video blog is all about the reason for the season... JUNK MAIL. And there's some great old woodworking photos to look at while you listen to my sweet, soothing voice...

If you're a smarty pants and prefer to read, here's the text version:

I love this time of year. The snowy streets, the sparkling lights on the rooflines of every building, the gaudy inflatable snowman villages on my neighbor’s front lawn. If you asked me what I liked most about the month of December I would answer, without hesitation, that it’s easier to clean up after the shop dog now that his poo is frozen. But a close second is the junk mail.

Now, we live in an electronic world. No longer are our mailboxes the only receptacle for flyers and catalogues and coupons and crap. We get loads of virtual mail to sift through as well, and these are often the most fun. On a good day I can get half a billion emails advertising everything from pills to make me skinnier to food to make me fatter. If I ever need testosterone boost to help sprout more chest hair, or a twelve bladed razor to shave that mess off, there’s an email for that.

But the best ads by far come from the woodworking suppliers. Woodcraft, Lee Valley, Whiteside, Highland Woodworking, everybody has a “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” or “Overspend Tuesday” or “We Just Made This One Up For The Heck Of It Wednesday”. I suppose they weren’t satisfied with the buying everyone does for Christmas so they had to make up a bunch of new shopping holidays too. Soon Roy Underhill’s birthday will be a national holiday and everyone will have buy suspenders and mustache trimmers as gifts.

Of course, it’s not all bad. There are some good deals to be found if you have a few hours to sift through the garbage. Just yesterday I found a free half sandwich my neighbor didn’t finish. But more on topic, I feel like some people are getting a little too carried away with the gift giving. Case in point: Today I got an email from a tool company telling me about their one day deal for the woodworker in my life. Touted to be the perfect gift, it cost a mere $2500… on sale. Now, I’m no cheapskate. I spend freely on foam brushes and dollar store sandpaper. But to me, $2500 is a big investment. A huge investment, especially for a tool. So if I’m going to shred that kind of lettuce I don’t think I’d be giving it away. There is nobody on this earth that I like enough to buy them a $2500 tool. I didn’t spend near that much on a health plan for the workshop, and have you seen the prices of tourniquets and sewing needles? Do people really spend that much money on someone else?

I’ve given a few gifts in my day. A month ago I gave Randy the shop boy an Arby’s coupon that expired two month ago. Chip got a free smack in the head just yesterday. I even bought Joy a foot bath so she can soak those big kankles of hers while she does the paperwork. I gave all these great gifts freely, not because of some new holiday that Hallmark made up just to sell more cards. (Secretaries day… seriously?) Nor was a single gift inspired by an email, except for chip’s smack in the head, which resulted from an email he sent me asking for time off.

The point is this… As much as I enjoy sitting on the toilet and reading the woodworking ads, I am seldom going to spend enough money on things in those ads to justify the enormous expense of producing all those ads. I’ll buy the $2 glue brush and the 70% off honing film if I need some of it. But the big stuff you’re trying to get me to spend on just so I can give it to someone that won’t really appreciate it as much as I appreciated all that money I laid it down to buy it… not going to happen. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there’s more happiness in giving than in receiving. So if receiving my gifts isn’t what makes people happy, why should I waste the money?

Friday, December 21, 2012

A message from Stumpy Nubs for survivors of today's Mayan Apocalypse...

When the Twinkies ran out we should have known the end was near. This video was recorded from the Blue Collar Woodworking bunker just before the world ended. If you're watching it, you must be one of the few survivors. Good for you. I hope you enjoy it...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Episode 28- Homemade Dust Collection P1

This week Charles Neil visits the Stumpy Nubs Workshop to help make me smarter; with the help of Bill Pentz we begin our three episode dust collection series with a big ol' wooden cyclone; and I talk hand plane physics with the Japanese. Plus a review of the Wixey digital angle gauge, tips on doing segmented glue-ups, and why my abs don't look like Tommy Mac's... that and a whole lot of fun on this episode of Blue Collar Woodworking...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

BLOG: I had a dust collection breakthrough while eating tapioca from a hospital trashcan!

The other day I yawned and a thick cloud came out of my gaping mouth, floated around my face for a moment and then disappeared, sucked into my nostrils as I inhaled my next breath. For a moment I assumed it was a cloud of pipe smoke, like my grand mother used to puff out in rings above her head to impress us kids on special occasions and weekdays. But since I don't smoke, I knew this was something more serious.

*(Tired of reading? Listen to Stumpy read this for you below. Or read on like a stuck up, smart-alec. It's your funeral...)*

Now, as you can tell by looking at me, I'm the type of guy that likes to take care of himself. Sure, I eat a lot of cheese and drink my share of malted beverages, and my wife's share too. And my idea of exercise is to sit in a lawn chair in front of the shop swinging a flyswatter and yelling at the neighborhood kids. But just because I neglect my waistline and my arteries doesn't mean I'm not concerned with my lungs. If I can't breath, I can't talk. And if I can't talk I can't order at drive through. So this is a health crisis.

The first thing I did was visit my doctor. And by doctor I mean Randy the shop boy. I make him smell my breath several times a day, so if anyone knows my breathing habits, it's him. Now, I could go into detail about what Randy said and how much garlic I had eaten that morning but I'll cut to the chase. Randy is an idiot and I've got dust in my lungs. Yes, you heard me right. My chest cavity has more filth in it than most internet videos, woodworking ones excluded. I should have guessed the problem months ago when I was kicked out of the wine club for saying everything was oaky. I wrote that off as a case of a bunch of fru-frus who can't stand to see a chubby guy shotgun a bottle of Cabernet with his shirt off. (Another joke, I drink only in moderation and only out a brown paper sack.)

Anyway, my mailman told me that what I needed was a good lung dusting so I went to see a real doctor and was immediately admitted. Now, the best part about intensive care is the food. They get a whole different menu from the rest of the hospital. And I quickly learned to take advantage by sneaking into that wing and looking for the comatose patients with unguarded trays. That's when reality really hit me, a real bottom of the barrel moment. Here I was sitting next to a recently deceased old woman eating tapioca from her trash can and I had to ask myself, was this all worth it? Wouldn't it be better to just get a new dust collection system and avoid this whole rigmarole altogether?

I mean, we all spend vastly more time sweeping the sawdust from the floors and blowing dust from every surface than we spend with our children, and only half the reason is because we woodworkers hate kids. Am I right.. huh? I'm winking, nodding and elbowing you like an idiot trying to make a point right now, and the point is this: My dust problem has overgrown my shop's ability to suck. Not that my shop doesn't suck in a lot of other ways. I don’t have cable for one thing, or an omelet bar. But neither of those is as important as getting that dust away from my giant nose and into some sort of filter like God intended. Chip collection isn't doing the job any more, my raw windpipe and splintered nostrils can attest to that. I tried to battle the dust clouds by opening the shop doors and windows and installing fog lights on the table saw. I'm tired of chewing after every breath. I'm tired of burrowing through the shop like a hamster. But most of all, I'm tired of being tired… which I've been told is caused by the low oxygen levels in the shop, and if there's one thing my Union employees demand, it's oxygen. And a break every ten minutes.

So, right then and there, on the cold tile floor of the late Mabel Butterfield's hospital room, I decided to change my life. No longer would I be a slave to the sawdust and wood chips that a good deal of my projects became. From that moment on the only thing I was going to sniff was glue fumes because nobody was ever harmed by those. I fell to my knees, took a final swig of ensure and swore to myself and Blue Collar Woodworking fans everywhere that I would design a dust collection system of such beauty, such efficiency, such unparalleled genius that Einstein himself would sit up in his grave, take a snort of my workshop air, wipe a tear from his eye and say… "Stumpy, you complete me."

In the next three episodes of Blue Collar Woodworking history will be made. Will you be there to witness it?