“A warrior cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless challenge, and challenges cannot possibly be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges … a warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary man takes everything as either a blessing or a curse.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Kumiko Unfolding – Part 3: Hand Tools, Table, Lights


About 10 days after placing the tools order (Romanian courier services are … difficult!) the tools arrived … and it was time to get to work on the table.

I started with getting acquainted with hand tools. I initially avoided hand-tools: they were as expensive as power tools and they seemed to require much more knowledge (which I didn’t have space to take on) and physical work (which I didn’t think I had the strength to do) than power tools. In retrospect it seems like a sensible choice:  I went through so much wood in the initial years … building a bed, cabinets, sheles, a kitchen, a chicken coup. I was using rough cut lumber and there was no way I could have done everything I did using hand-tools.

One of the things I was very naive about was sharpening. I kind of understood that sharp tools get dull as you use them, but I understimated what a major task sharpening is. How far off was I? I thought I would need to sharpen the chainsaw once a year … turns out it needs sharpening every couple of hours of use (even more frequently if used poorly … like I did). Sharpening is an art of its own and was one of the reasons I am glad I avoided hand tools. I will probably dedicate a separate post to sharpening … but now I had to finally face it … I wanted to try the jack plane … and so, even though it came decently sharp, I had to hone it a bit. I then created my first ever wood shavings:

… and it was a pleasant experience:

  • An inviting silence – compared to the noise of the power tools.
  • Human scale: unlike the huge force unleashed by power tools hand tools work on a human scale where there is room for sensing, feeling, responding and adjusting.
  • Dust free: I did not need to where a breathing mask … shavings do not get sucked up up into my nostrils and breathing body.
  • Excercise: it can be a good whole-body form of excercise (if done well!)
  • Most surprising to me was that there are things that you can do with hand tools that are actually easier to do than with power tools… heck there are even things that you can only really do with a hand tools.

So I decided to do a crash training course on planing and used it to (roughly) shape the wood I needed to create a frame for the table. A couple of weeks after the tools arrived there was a table frame:

… upon which I could place the table-top:

… on which I could work to create and attach a vise:

… and a segment which can be pulled away to create a gap in which long rip cuts could be made with a circular saw:

While all this was going on I reqired the workshop, put in an electric circuit board and installed some led lights:

Since I am writing this in retrospect it is easy to miss smaller unfoldings within the larger unfolding. The electricity and lights were an unfolding project in its own right:

  • Figuring out and buying the parts for the electric circuit board.
  • Disconnecting the temporary power cable that came from the house and replacing it with a less temporary (!) cable.
  • Installing the circuitry with a preparation for lights.
  • Finding led lights and buying one to get a sense of how its temperature would feel and how light it could provide.
  • Adding three more lights to give decent coverage in the space.

A month after the tools arrived I had a workshop with a table and a vise, with electricity and lights. I could close the barn door when it was windy or rainy and I could stay in the workshop after dark. Great progress!

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