There’s something relaxing about the aroma of fresh wood. Maybe it stems from a primal nature somewhere within our DNA. Walk into any home improvement store and find the lumber aisle and stand there with your eyes shut. You would be forgiven for thinking you had been transported to the middle of the forest. The trees sway in the light, summer breeze. Maybe a brook babbles nearby. Birds sing their pretty songs as they flutter about. Of course, when you open your eyes and realize you’re still in the home improvement store, you may notice some odd stares coming your way.
Wood working can conjure up these same images and from the comfort of your own work shop or garage. In my case, it was in someone else’s. I had the pleasure of hanging out with Joey and learning as much as I could about wood working. He’s been crafting such things as coffee tables and cutting boards for the past six years. His garage was less for storing cars and more of a wood working utopia.
Beneath the work table, crafted out of wood of course, rested planks of wood from various sources. Some were salvaged from an old bench in his backyard which had broken. Other pieces he had received from places such as Offer Up or Craigslist. Our project was a wooden chest meant to look similar to a pirate’s chest. We wanted it to look weathered and old as if it spent most of its life at the bottom of the ocean. Luckily, Joey had just the pieces.
He sorted through his stack and pulled out the broken bench pieces and handed them to me. They were old and weathered alright. I could almost picture the chest in my mind. But how to actually craft it, I hadn’t the faintest idea. Of course, that was no issue for him. I could see the excitement on his face as he snatched the pieces and went about telling me our plans for the day. Before long, I was excited to jump in and start sawing some wood.
Saw dust encompassed the entire space as we sent planks through the table saw. As the day grew longer, the heat grew with it. After an ice-cold beer and some pizza, we returned to the garage to continue our work. I learned Joey had always loved crafting things out of wood. From a young age, he would whittle things with nothing more than a pocket knife and sticks. Coincidentally, I had done the same when in Boy Scouts. I told him my skills had merely been sharpening sticks with pocket knives.
Wood working is a lot of just that, working. It’s a lot of sawing, drilling, hammering, measuring, and repeating. But something about it is fun and relaxing. Therapeutic, almost. I could tell it meant more than just a weekend hobby for him. It was a passion. In fact, it was a passion he was dying to share. I was taken under his wing and shown the ropes and sent home that day with a project I would need to finish. So, that day, I took a trip to the home improvement store and picked up some items I would need. For the first time since I started Avocation Adventures, I brought the hobby home with me and might very well make it my own.
“Pretty soon,” he said, handing me a few pieces of wood to take home with me. “You’ll be taking your kitchen knives and smashing the handles so you can carve yourself a wooden one.” In fact, he had done that very thing with one of his own. Had he not told me he had crafted it himself, I would have never known.
Handmade items have a certain character to them. It’s personal and real. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with buying a factory-made desk or entertainment center. But when you see what a skilled craftsman can do with a few planks of wood and a Saturday afternoon, it makes you want to own nothing but handcrafted goods. Or better yet, it might make you want to start creating your own. Thanks for coming along on this Avocation Adventure and remember to keep wandering, just not alone.
Evan Bond, author of To the Wolves and Death Can Wait, is a thriller/suspense author. When not writing, he can be found hiking or camping in the beautiful state of Florida.