Thursday, April 3, 2014


There are lots of definitions of whittling.  Some definitions include ideas that I just do not like.  You know what I mean.  Those that imply that whittling involves no talent and is just sitting around with a knife and wasting time making pointed sticks.  I have vague memories of my Grandpa sitting on his front porch with a pile of slivers at his feet, a pocket knife in one hand, and a piece of wood in the other.  I don't remember Grandpa ever having a finished piece, just that pile of slivers.  I think Grandpa was a whittler.  I think he whittled for relaxation. Talent, you bet!  He made furniture - and he made it the hard way.

These memories date back to the second world war.  I'm told of the shortages of just about everything, including wood.  If memory serves me, a local lumber yard caught fire and burned.  I remember grandpa taking me and a wagon down to the lumber yard and salvaging burnt pieces of plywood.  Grandpa took the burnt plywood and cut off the burnt parts and used the reminder for furniture.  I remember grandpa made a table and chairs out of the salvaged plywood.  Not just the table top, but the legs too.  I have a very vivid memory of the legs.  They were square, and there was no plywood end grin showing.  As I grew older and became a shop teacher, these memories of grandpa's table legs out of plywood came back.  I can remember thinking how damn good of a wood worker he was.  Grandpa had no power woodworking equipment.  No circular saw or table saw to rip the plywood.  No table saw to cut the miters that were required to make the table legs.  This was all accomplished with a hand saw.  Four legs, eight long miter cuts per leg, thirty two long miter cuts per table.  All this by hand. 

Grandpa was talented with wood, and I suspect he was just relaxing with his pocket knife.  And I'll bet he could have whittled anything he wanted to.

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