Sunday, June 17, 2012

Squam Stories: The Paddle Bit

On Thursday, I made a box.

This was in my first class, Three Tools with Terri Dautcher. I signed up for this class because my knowledge of Building Things With Wood is very minimal. I can use a hammer. I have built something with wood--a box, actually--years and years ago, in a short workshop offered by the art department in college, I think so art majors (and minors, like myself) could, potentially, build our own frames and stuff. Or not, in my case. Also, I signed up because I wanted to see inside Terri's studio. It didn't disappoint. She has everything in there; it's like it's a Wishing Studio, and as soon as you think, Oh, I could really use such-and-such, such-and-such appears.

But this story isn't exactly about the box, as you may have guessed by now. These Squam stories never are about the obvious. I will tell you that I'd originally pictured a much smaller box, and one a bit more decorated, but I liked the birch branch, and the branch dictated the rest of the design. Also, I may add more to it (possibly with that birch leaf stamp), but by late afternoon on Thursday I was so exhausted that I was content to let further adornment wait until I got home. This story, though, is about the paddle bit.

A paddle bit (also known as a spade bit) is this amazing type of drill bit that drills an exact circle. I used it to create the holes into which the birch branch fits.

You need to drill through the wood you want the hole in and into a piece of scrap wood underneath, so you don't go through into the table. I drilled a practice hole, and when I got nearly through the first piece of wood, the drill caught onto the second piece, and I guess, despite my best efforts, I wasn't holding the top piece firmly enough, and it went spinning around on the drill. I took my finger off the trigger, but it kept spinning a few more rotations. It was startling and scary. The piece of wood thwacked against my thigh, not enough to hurt, but enough to embed some splinters into my jeans. (Not my leg, just my jeans.) Okay, I thought. I know not to do that next time.

The real hole went a little better as far as flying wood goes, but I did splinter it a bit (nothing a little sandpaper couldn't handle). Because a branch isn't necessarily straight, like a dowel, I couldn't drill the holes in both side pieces at once, so I had one more hole to go. I'd marked it (turns out I could have done both at once; they lined up almost exact) and was holding the drill, poised, over my mark, when Terri walked by.

"Amy, do you want me to just do that last one for you?"

I sort of chuckled. "Do I look tense?" I asked. I was tense. Also, determined. "No, thank you. I'll do it." And I did. But I was exhausted by the end of that class, mentally and physically, all that concentration on something completely new, cutting the wood, drilling those holes, even nailing the damn thing nails kept going in at an angle, and I'd try my hardest to line myself up with the nail...only to pull it out and try again.

But at the end of the day, I had a box. A HUGE box. With a bit of birch tree wood-burning on the ends, to go with the handle. I will probably add a bit more paint, and stamp some birch leaves on the sides, but these are the photos I wanted to share--taken on the screened-in porch of my cabin by the lake. Proof that I stared down the paddle bit and came out on the other side with a box.


Andrea said...

*Love.* I saw some of that determination in the days we spent together, although it is sometimes hidden behind your quieter demeanor. Not yet knowing you well, I saw it most when you spoke of childbirth, and parenting, and taking care of your body. Such a gift, this determination, especially combined with your kind and loving spirit. Well done, my woodworking friend!

Rose Red said...

I love this box - the birch handle is so cool.

I'm really glad I did woodwork in high school (even though I was petrified of the lathe, and my teacher made most of my rolling pin...). (I still use that rolling pin, by the way!). It is really good to conquer the fear of the drill! Go you!

Jill said...

You. Rock.

amy said...

For anyone who doesn't know, Jill is my sister and maybe a little biased. :)

Bells said...

Oh go you. I love it. It's simple and very pleasing. And something you'll no doubt have and use for years to come, with memories.

ps sisters are supposed to say that stuff. It's in the contract.

Michelle said...

She gets to be biased.
Me? I get to say you rock, too. :)

Yup, I get the determination. On bad days, it's called stubborn. It's what makes us tick. But it really can be such an asset. On good days, I like to call it fearless or even courageous. It's a quiet kind of courage, but it still counts.