My dad, gone now for 12 years, used to pride himself on having the tool you needed. Didn't matter what it was, if you needed it, he had it. And when he passed, most of those tools came to me.
There are mechanic's tools, pipe-fitter's tools, welding tools and carpenter's tools, all in tool boxes in our garage. He was none of those things, but a little bit of all of them, thanks to a varied career that included being a studio grip, a shipyard welder and all-around go-to guy on a large and active ranch. Unfortunately, he did not pass along to me his skills, but at least I have the hardware, which comes in handy every now and then.
Like now. A couple of weeks ago Laura dragged home a dissolute old redwood wine rack. It is very rickety and broken in one significant place, a front leg. Using glue and clamps, I fixed that. For a better look, just click on this image, as always, it it will become fullsize.
Laura's thought was, she would wipe the thing down and put in our kitchen area which already is so jammed with wine racks, baker's tables and other antiques that there is no room for anything else, but that is a topic for another time, or maybe not.
What this piece of furniture needs most desperately is a new top - some knothead replaced what was there with two pieces of incredibly ugly and non-matching white pine planks. Not good, not good at all. So I sourced a couple of nice, clear pieces of redwood and am about to position them and affix them with nice brass wood screws.
But wait: This thing apparently came from the Sebastiani vineyards in Napa Valley. At least it has the Sebastiani brand, in a very nice, ornate font, burned into its top cross member. Well. How about I do a rubbing of that, transfer it to that nice, new redwood, and then carve those letters into that redwood top? I mean, after all, do I not have (some of) the appropriate wood chisels in my dad's old carpentry box? I do indeed! How hard could it be? What's the worst that could go wrong?
So that's what I'm working on, out in the back patio, late in the afternoons when it's cool enough to work out there. First, since I've never done anything remotely like this and since I'm not particularly clever with my hands and fingers (as anyone who has heard me play banjo, mandolin or guitar certainly can attest), I'm doing a trial run on a piece of scrap. I'm trying a couple of different methods to see what slightly almost works and what I'm bound to totally screw up.
So far, so good. I'm taking things at just a couple of letters at a time, making some mistakes and learning some stuff. The jury is still out on whether or not I actually undertake doing this wood carving on the real, actual top. But I'm tending toward doing it, if I can finish the trial run without gouging the life out of one of my hands, severing a nerve or a finger with these very sharp old Swedish- and German-steel chisels. If I did that, I suppose there would be at least one bright spot. I would be unable to torture people with my banjo, mandolin and guitar. Oh, and just for the hell of it and because it's on the same file as these other photos, here's a shot of my good pal Rio helping me watch the Peter, Paul and Mary documentry that's currently playing on public television. Great stuff! Rio thinks so too. He also likes the wine rack and thinks I should continue with this project.