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Changing gears

by metavision Sat Oct 6th, 2007 at 03:41:24 PM EST

After two weeks in my first carpentry class, I have made a lovely "gramil", or marking gauge (1) and a false square that I will keep the rest of my life.  Only hand tools allowed!  I had to make two trial gramil boards out of pine (and sharpened the chisels ten times until the teacher said I was leaving them shorter than the handles) before I learned enough to make it out of ash.  (Read, like rock.)  Up next are dozens of dovetail joints.

We have about half hour of theory a day and we take notes, copy drawings and look at pictures.  We have covered furniture in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome so far, but I forgot to bring my notebook home to review.  At noon today, on a Friday..., we had the first theory quiz and I went blank because some classmates were making me laugh.  It was so bad, I got maybe 4/10 questions right.  I think I have no shame left and need some ´reform´.


It all started at coffee break, when a classmate started improvising the test out loud:

"Types of wood:  Let´s see.  We have domestic wood and imported wood, ...hard wood, soft wood, redwood...."  and the puns started from there, branching out on wood, woods, sticks, trunks, hunks, etc.,  with every Spanish tone and dialect being added to the meaning by everyone.  When we got to "madero" (madera = wood) as the slang for cop, goon, or tough guy, I choked on my toast and never recovered.  We represented a vision of it from every area, accent and economic segment known to humankind, from traffic cop, good cop, anti-disturbance police and intel agent.

When we got back, I sat at the very back of the class and we got a sheet of paper with 10 questions like

1.  What materials did the ancient Egyptians use for furniture?  (Space for two handwritten lines...)

Well, duh!  I wrote "Wood, "  and out of the corner of my eye I saw shoulders and backs wiggling.  I looked up and saw a couple of mates bowing their heads until they almost hit the desk and heard bursts of controlled laughter.  

2.  What was Roman furniture made out of?  (Space for two handwritten lines...)

That was it!  We seemed to be reading at the same speed and reacting in unison when "wood" came to mind.  Most of us re-lived the scene from the break and laughed through the rest of the 5 minutes it took to finish it, or give up.

?.  What made the Roman dining table different?

(What is he talking about now?  A klinos, ...what was that?  Triclinium has three legs, podium has one, ... What do I answer here?)  The answer was that the tables were lower because the Romans pigged out laying down.  I kneeeew that!

?.  Where did they begin to use the scissor chair?

(Are you kidding me?  I should remember thaaat.  Mark Anthony gave it to Cleopatra, for all I know!  He talked about frontal and lateral scissor chairs, but who was he talking about?  If I needed to know this, I´d look it up on internet, anyway.)

Well, three, young classmates actually sat there writing, for over 20 minutes and used the backside of the page!!, which only added to the shameful laughter and disbelief in the back of the class.  "Wha...  They are confusing this with school???"

It´s a relaxed group of 10-12 people with a thirty-something, male teacher who learned from a strict father and is excellent, plus he uses a soft, pseudo-condescending humor.  To my surprise, we are half of each gender and half also, are either early-twenties, or middle-agers and we mix really well.  

I´m really lucky that I can walk to class --more like a steep, uphill hike in the morning-- because there are people coming from opposite poles of Madrid and they must get up in the darkest of night.  Besides that, the first day in class I found a second cousin there, that I had not seen in forty years!  We have discovered we both like to kid and his wife, whom I haven´t met, has invited me over for lunch next week.

Although the quiz doesn´t show it, I am serious about this class and whatever ´retaliation´ the teacher may take, I am going to make it through these "nine months of labor", no matter what.   Although my thumb muscles and wrists have been hurting since I started, I will strengthen them and learn carpentry because I like it and want to practice it in the future.  Hopefully, I can use salvaged, or recycled wood because it´s even nicer.

Wood is life and it gives me life to be around it!  

Note (1)  Let´s see if I can explain a "gramil", or marking gauge (trusquin in French).  It´s a rudimentary, but really nifty carpentry tool.  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marking_gauge

Itīs like the Stanley gauge, but with two, shorter ībeamsī and I like mine better...

Made from a rectangular piece of wood, 12 x 7,5 x 2 cm.  On that you chisel -through the board, centered, 2 cm. apart-- 2 square holes for 2 x 2 x 12 cm. pegs.  Then, on the 2 cm.-wide side of the board, you chisel!!! a centered slot about .75 cm. high ----all-the-way-through--- with different widths and angles at each end, where you stick a .75 cm. piece of wood, (like a trapezoid?) so that it wedges the 2 pegs really tight.  On one end of each peg you insert a screw until it is flush with the wood, then you file the screw points until they become a tiny blade.

Does it make any sense?  As you slide the pegs to a given measurement and force the wedge in to tighten them, the screws will copy it from one piece of wood to another and mark it.  I still don´t know what the second peg is for, but I have learned how to use one and I have turned the other peg´s screw inward, to avoid harming myself.

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Great diary, Metavision!  I've always wanted to learn carpentry.  When I was about 7 or 8, I found a block of wood in the garage and then sat on the front steps of the house with an inch wide chisel and a hammer (metal hammer, not a mallett) and decided to do a carving.  I managed to knock some little shapes rather noisily out of the wood until I had a picture of a house on the seafront with a boat drifting off to the horizon.  That's what I saw anyway.  It took a very long time and I was extremely proud of it.

It seems to me that your efforts may well be much more productive. I'm glad you are enjoying it.  I also enjoy going to classes because the mix of new people is great.  You often don't get to meet such a diversity of people like you can at evening or adult learning classes.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Oct 6th, 2007 at 04:04:41 PM EST
Thanks.  I´ve wanted to learn for a long time and finally found a course near me.  The hours go by really fast in the workshop.  I just have to ´renegotiate´ that little test.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sat Oct 6th, 2007 at 04:16:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just as I was thinking I have a chance to wean myself off ET (football and photography rule tonight) you come up with an interesting new diary!  

Should I thank you...?

   

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sat Oct 6th, 2007 at 04:33:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I´m trying to distract you all, so I can catch up on old diaries!  (I don´t even try to quit...)

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sat Oct 6th, 2007 at 04:52:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know what you mean... ;-)

I'm up to date with reading just now, so I do have a tiny chance...

But if I start writing, I know I'll never get my life back.

 

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sat Oct 6th, 2007 at 05:11:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
this would be cool to see pics of.

good for you metavision...

i'd love to do that.

next week i'm starting a two month, 3 times a week, horse training course.

equine therapy.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Oct 6th, 2007 at 09:20:15 PM EST
Ohhh, melo!  Equine anything is still in my dream list, but I´ll keep dreaming it until it comes true.

I´m sure you will enjoy it by the millisecond.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 06:28:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it will be a great workout, that's for sure!

paddy is a good horse, i love him a lot, (you've prolly seen pix i've posted of him here) and my teacher believes in gentleness, which was a bit hard to find.

i always used to wonder why in international equine events, the italian contestant(s) were usually in military uniform.

now i know...

i've had him since he was just out of foal-hood, and now he's itching for structure. after the first trial lunging session, he galloped around the meadow so happy he looked like he was going to explode!

we're going to do the work at a stable about 20 miles away, where he can get comfortable with more stimulation than he gets up at my place.

we'll take him out on his first rides there too, in company with other (hopefully well-trained) horses and riders.

i am very excited by this, and know it will be a big challenge for both of us, but i trust the teacher, and that's what i've been waiting for.

ride on! please send us pix of your carpentry, p'raps you can come trade some woodworking tips for some horse-knowledge if you're ever around these parts, plenty of good wood...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 07:58:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, cool. How old is he? What type of horse? Where are those pictures?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 08:35:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]

he's a purebred camargue, 4 1/2 years old.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Oct 8th, 2007 at 07:58:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Carpentry or woodworking is an enjoyable and useful skill.  At one time or another almost everyone wishes to create something with their hands and I can think of no better way than the one you have chosen.  Both my brother and father are quite skilled carpenters but, alas, I have not taken the time to learn.  Hope you enjoy your new hobby/trade.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Oct 6th, 2007 at 09:54:00 PM EST
Yes, it is deeply satisfying to get one´s hands into something, be it dough, or earth, or other natural materials.  Repairing and reusing things also gives me a positive boost.  It probably balances out a habit of living ´in the head´ too much.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 06:38:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a habit of living ´in the head´ too much.

I understand, and would add that it also is gratifying to be able to work with something of physical substance and see the end product without constant tweaking and worrying over it.  


I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 03:37:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by wu ming on Mon Oct 8th, 2007 at 03:00:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I recognize the gramil from woodworking classes long ago. I think in English it's called a marking gauge (though does it have another name I can't recall?). In French it's a trusquin.

Great work, metavision!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 04:32:33 AM EST
Thank you, afew.  I will update the diary.

I´m happy with my woodwork, but the quiz however, is more like "Heckuva job, metavision!".  How embarrassing...

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 06:44:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you remember those woodworking classes too :-) - a pleasant change from the usual academic subjects and not so humiliating as physical education classes often were - "No, I'm not going to attempt a handspring vault" :-)

Yes, it is deeply satisfying to get one´s hands into something, be it dough, or earth, or other natural materials.

Yes, I quite like mixing up chopped fish, eggs and spices with my hands - my occasional efforts at cuisine are quite relaxing.

You might even have inspired me to finally use the oil-paints I bought a year ago to get back to painting - after many years. Montserrat is still waiting for a long-promised sunset :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 10:24:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Go for it, Ted! and post pictures as your painting takes shape.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 03:16:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm so glad you managed to get to the class, I was worried that you'd give it up having missed the first class.

Woodwork is fun isn't it, tho' it's a good few years since I did any. Have a good time.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 10:55:00 AM EST
It worked out fine and it´s just what I needed to start another cycle.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 03:21:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the diary, metavision. Sounds like fun.

Did you get into that course just for fun or do you have plans about what you want to do with your new skills?

by Fran on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 12:47:35 PM EST
I enjoy it and I´m addicted to old, ruined houses so I´m going to need it to build or rebuild whatever housing I get into, even it is a packed-earth house.  When I´m in my nineties, I will retire to make eternal, wood furniture in some form of Arts & Crafts style.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 04:00:59 PM EST
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I´m addicted to old, ruined houses

A friend of mine has a taste for them. He restores ruins then rents them out as holiday homes. Off the back of this he got a couple of book deals, and ended up as a consultant and researcher for the BBCs restoration series. Plus a S4C tv series on Welsh houses. He's just been told he's a finalist in an ethical tourism award.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 04:15:06 PM EST
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Indeed..:!!!! :) :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Oct 8th, 2007 at 09:58:20 AM EST


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