Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Country Roads

If you are over 40 you probably remember a singer named John Denver. I love his music. One of his songs was written about the area where I live. “Take me home, Country Roads” describes Jefferson County, WV more than anywhere else in the state. Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah River are only located in one place, Jefferson County. John was an avid spokesman for the environment and in some ways I agree. I think we are called to be good stewards of the world in which we live. This is not only relevant to the environment but in the way we approach woodworking.

I like to work primarily in native hardwoods from my area, and especially from a known source. I normally purchase my wood from Local Woods (see my links page for their website.) Scott is very helpful, friendly and seems to be an overall good guy. They have great prices and usually a pretty
good selection available.

I am pretty frugal (ok, I’m a tight wad) and I tend to save even the smallest cut offs. The pieces I don’t use go into fireplace for those cold evenings. I even think I’m pretty responsible with the finishes I use. I like to use shellac the most, it dry fast, easy to repair and for most of the products I put out, it works well. For the item that I make for the kitchen, those are finished with Walnut oil. I find it easy to use and it works just as well as or even better than mineral oil.

I don’t like using water-born finishes other than paint. I think that it leaves the wood looking lifeless which goes against what I am looking for in a piece. I will occasionally use a wiping varnish but that is normally over several coat of shellac and then only to give a piece more water resistance.

As a fellow wood worker, ask yourself these questions: Are you being responsible with your materials? Are you getting the most out of that piece of wood? Are you responsible with your finishing material; is there another option that will work just as well or better?

As spring approaches, I would encourage you to go take a walk in the woods. Enjoy the renewal of life; it’s really an amazing thing to see. If you have the opportunity plant a few trees, not for yourself but for the future wood workers. And by all means, share woodworking with a child and teach them to be good stewards of what the world has given us.

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