April Is the Cruelest Month

April 29, 2010

At least that’s what T.S. Eliot said in his landmark poem “The Waste Land.” I’m not buying it, though. It’s been a darn nice April here at the Toolworks. Granted I spend most of my time in a tiny subterranean shop sucking in the radon, but the Spring weather has been especially pleasant this year. Trees budding seemingly overnight, bulbs tucked away all over the lawn deploying their stems in perfect synchrony. It’s been a quiet symphony of color and slow motion.

The cats were plotting pirate-like mutiny after being cooped up all winter–they burst outside but were promptly incapacitated by warm patches of sunlight. The one looked up at me and squeaked, “Solar energy is the future, man.”

So today I thought I’d take a few minutes and go outside to take a few pics of a tenon saw I just finished up. It’s got a subtle new twist on the lamb’s tongues I’ve been carving. I always get asked how long it takes to make a saw. It depends. It takes as long as it takes, which varies from one type of saw to the next, and which varies from saw to saw anyway. Obsessing over time only makes sense to me if your goal is to make a lot of something; so that is not what I do. I attend to the details of what I’m doing, and when they’re done, I’m done. Simple enough.

But generally speaking tenon saws are among the most time consuming that I make. They have closed handles, long folded backs, and big thin blades. Everything must be a very particular way before it leaves the shop, and nothing gets that way by accident.

The handle in front is the same one pictured above. The handle behind belongs to a panel saw not quite finished. Thanks for looking. Hope your April has been as nice as mine.


  1. Now, we get to see some saws…. This is realy nice!I'm excited… an other 15 months to go… CheersDavid

  2. "Granted I spend most of my time in a tiny subterranean shop sucking in the radon,"But…but radon is good for you – it keeps you radioactive. Probably not any worse than coal smoke. 😉

  3. Hey David, thank you very much. I appreciate that. Fifteen months, sounds like the title of a documentary about prison life in Administrative Segregation!Jim W.,I don't know any Jim W. Oh wait. Maybe I do. Hey, a real man can take a lil' radon there Jim–puts hair on your chest! Or something like that.later guys,Andrew

  4. Hey Andrew!Was over snooping around on Leif Hanson's site, then to another site to watch a guy named Bob with a jumble of letters for a last name, show me how to sharpen a saw and then had to come and see what you are up to.Damn! Just love your handles/totes, especially your new lamb's tongue. Great to see your saws here on your blog. With those two totes stacked up there against the wall, looks like a nice little two saw production run ya got go'n there.Had a friend stop by last weekend. Got him trapped down in my shop and forced him to suffer through some of my cloating over some saws I've been working on. While I was gloating, I taught him how to file a 5PPI rip saw in about four minutes. I wanted to teach him how to do a crosscut, but he said, "naw, I'm good" and started inching toward the door. People can be so impatient. Take care,Marv

  5. Hey Marv, thanks for stopping in! I appreciate the kind words very much. Sounds like you almost had yourself a captive audience there in your shop–too bad your buddy wasn't more interested in learning how to sharpen saws. His loss. I think your shop would be a very interesting place to visit. Catch you later,Andrew

  6. I was at a friends house Sunday.He runs a plant nursery.We were talking about work and we started up about how our work outside was hard but satisfying.I’m a carpenter.Then we got into our work verses office work.How persons who work in offices don’t have the good luck in being able to see the fruits of your labor.As I saw the photos of your beautiful saws and totes I was reminded of that conversation past.Great writing! Thanks

  7. Hi Tim,

    Thanks. I appreciate that. There is something particularly satisfying about making things with your hands. I find writing and making things to be a pretty natural counterpoint to one another. Just different ways of expressing things. Take care.

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