Canadian Woodworking

Christmas is finally over

Blog by Rob Brown

Christmas is wonderful, but as always, I’m pleased to see it go.

Sure, it’s a great time to spend with family and see friends but looking in the rear-view mirror all I can see is the rushing around preparing for the holiday. I had a bit of time to work wood, but that was late in the evening when I would have rather been doing other things. I had a few Christmas gifts to make and they were quite enjoyable to build, but because they were so rushed, I felt like I couldn’t enjoy building them.

It’s not all bad

But I’m not complaining, as there were many highlights during the last few weeks. I was able to get both of my kids into the shop to make chopsticks for my partner, who likes Asian food, and does a fantastic job making many different Asian-inspired dishes. Chopsticks are usually used about twice a week in our home, and the pair I made her a few years ago were getting tired looking. My kids each made her a new set, and they turned out great.

Having someone else look at a project usually means new design details or ornamentation. I’ve always made chopsticks in one way, but my kids took a slightly different approach, which meant they ended up with chopsticks with a different look and feel. It was great to see.

Another plus from the past few weeks was seeing the look on people’s faces when they unwrapped the gift I made for them. Store-bought items often make for very functional and beautiful gifts, but a hand-made gift has that extra something that’s hard to define. I guess it’s a mix of someone taking the time to make an object for you, coupled with what can be a unique, customized design or project that the receiver really likes.

I also received some gifts

As a woodworker, I can always count on a few tools making their way under the tree or in my stocking. Admittedly, I have a very healthy collection of tools, so it’s pretty hard to buy woodworking items for me that I don’t already have. I did snag a nice Japanese marking knife from my partner, which is not only razor sharp, but also looks fantastic. Who doesn’t love Japanese tools?!

My partner also gave me what can only be described as a “multi-pen”. One end writes, while the other end has a stylus that removes to reveal two interchangeable screwdriver tips. There’s a small level and measurements in inches and centimetres on the pen’s side. I’ll likely keep it in the car just in case I need it when out and about. I’ve got measuring and marking tools covered in my shop, not to mention screwdrivers and levels.

I also got a few cycling tools, as I ride a lot: a multi-tool for taking on long rides, especially those that venture off-road; and a sleek set of Swiss Tools L-keys in a rainbow of colours. Both of these are beauties that I look forward to using as soon as possible.

On the other hand, I didn’t give any woodworking tools at all. The females in my life mainly wanted clothes and footwear, while my son was hoping for a lot of fishing gear. Since I don’t know the first thing about fishing, I asked contributor Steve Der-Garabedian what I should get him. Steve came through with flying colours, and now that my son has a wide range of fly-tying gear, I might not ever see him again. He loves making things and fishing, so this is the perfect combination for him. He quickly started reminding me that he now needs a fly rod and definitely some lures for bass. I guess fishing gear isn’t that different from woodworking tools. The more you have, the more you realize you don’t have.

Favourite part of the Christmas holiday

I think the highlight of the Christmas break for me is the time after December 25. It’s much more relaxing once the big day has come and gone. Family dinners are over with, the rushing to the mall (or in my case, my shop) is done and the last-minute trips to the grocery store have slowed. It’s time to relax, spend some quiet time with the family and get back into the shop and work at a normal speed. Strangely, it’s almost warm enough for me to get outside for a ride with my new multi-tool.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I also hope things have quieted down and you can find time to spend with family and friends, and obviously spend time in your shop.

Woodworking for Christmas

Here are the woodworking and cycling tools I received for Christmas. The Japanese marking knife is sharp and ready for action, the L-keys are looking fantastic and energetic, and I’ve figured out most of the functions the multi-tool can offer when my bike breaks down deep in the forest. The chopsticks that my kids made now have two coats of finish and are waiting patiently for the turkey and stuffing leftovers to disappear before making an appearance.

Woodworking in the Kitchen

We turned our kitchen table into a woodworking bench in order to pump out two sets of chopsticks before Christmas. Once the blanks are ripped to size, you need surprisingly little in the way of tools to make chopsticks. My kids used a wood-burning tool to add some ornamentation to the chopsticks they made.

Woodworking in the Kitchen
Last modified: December 28, 2023

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches

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