Tis The Season

Friday, December 13, 2019 9:49 AM

I’m sure that some of you are busy making thise Christmas presents for family and friends. It’s something that we woodworkers seem to do every year. As mentioned before in this blog, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube this year I did the same. Because we needed to send some off to their recipients early mine are all done and wrapped up. I’m one of the fortunite few that can enjoy the days leading up to Christmas without having to apply that last coat of finish the night before.

Making gifts each year can be a daunting task for some of us. First we need to come up with the idea of what we can batch out in a fairly quick time. Second it needs to be something that everyone on our list can use. Obviously furniture is out. It takes far too long to make and the style of furniture in people’s homes varies greatly. Often the choices boil down to things like cutting boards but how many times can we repeat them — NONE. Once we’ve made cutting boards for everyone it’s not a project we can repeat — or is it? Maybe we can get away with making cuttine boards one year and something like a cheese board another but that’s it.

Yes, I know their are projects that are great for people who drink. I’ve seen many designs for wine glass holders that somehow attach them to a wine bottle. Designs for beer drinkers from openers to bottle holders abound. There are also numerous bar tools that wood handles can be added to. I noticed this year that Rockler had a big sale on all the bar tool kits that they have. But, at least in my case the majority of the people on my gift list don’t drink. I’d have to batch out different items for them. For me that’s not an option. If I’m going to make gifts I want to be able to make everyone the same thing.

Gift giving is one of the reasons I bought my lathe. There are numerous items that can be turned on a lathe that can be used for gifts. Many different companies offer wide selections of turning kits. Last year as many of you know I made a dozen ice craem scoops. They were all very well received. Ice cream scoops are one of those things that just about everyone uses at sometime during a year and sometimes even use more than one. This year I turned handles for another item that most people use on a fairly regular basis. No, I’m still not letting you in on what I made. You’ll have to wait for the videos to be published in January. While the people on my Christmas list are not woodworkers some do check out this website, my Facebook page and my YouTube channel. I did, however, review what I made on my Instragram feed. I’m pretty sure that none of the gift recepients follow me there.

I can highly recommend a lathe for those of you who approach this time of year without a plan for your gifts. Yes, it’s another “rabbit hole” for woodworkers to fall down with some expensive tools to buy but having a lathe has really opened up a lot of possibilities for me. Gift ideas that can be turned on a lathe, from small pens to long shoehorns are very easy and perhaps more importantly for many of us, turned items are very quick to make. One of my gifts this year, for example, had to go out quite a bit earlier than the others. Pam told me about that less than a week before she was going to see our friend who was getting one of the gifts. The next day the item was turned, sanded to 15000 grit and had a coat of finish on it. The next day I applied the second coat of finish and a day later the finish was fully dry and ready to be wrapped. While the whole lot of gifts took me quite a bit longer I was able to get that one done and off to its new home much quicker that most other types of projects. It also gave me a chance to practice my turning skills. Actually, considering how busy I’ve been outside the shop this year, batching out all the other items went very fast and smoothly. As I found last year I’m sure that the recepients will be delighted with their gifts. 

I wish all of you the best outcome of all your gift making this year. Hopefully you were able to plan ahead and get them all done ahead of time so that you can enjoy the holidays with your family and friends instead of those long nights in the shop trying to rush the job. BUT, if you’re rushing at the end which is someting that I’ve been guilty of far too many times, STAY SAFE. Don’t rush to the point where you nave some sort of accident because you’re rushing or tired. The workshop can be a dangerous place when you are tired, sleepy or you’re rushing to get something done. Remember you can always give something late if necessary. The recepient will be just as happy with the gift and very surprised.

AND, for those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas I wish you the very best at this time of year. It’s a time that I use to relax and reflect. I take time to be with friends and family and enjoy their company. It’s also a time where I think about how fortunate I am and make some plans for the future. I look back on the accomplishments for the year, some great and othrs that are not so great — some I’ve finished and others that are still in progress. My future plans for the upcoming year come out from thinking about the past year. That’s when I start setting my priorities for a new year.