Canadian Woodworking

Some Days

Author: Don Wilkinson
Illustration: Mike Del Rizzo
Published: April 2007
Some Days
Some Days

Some days it doesn’t pay to get out of bed.


If anyone ever invents a machine to notify you as to which days those are, I’ll be first in line to buy one. Heck, I’ll even buy the prototype if I have to.

As anyone who owns a woodworking shop in their basement or garage, or who works at woodworking professionally, knows that sooner or later, something is going to go wrong somewhere. Hopefully it will only damage a bit of precious wood, or dull a tool you just spent six hours sharpening. Occasionally however, an event or series of events will make you question not only why you are involved in woodworking, but why you got out of bed at all.

I was the owner/operator of a small custom furniture shop in the Yukon. One morning, as was my habit, I arrived at the shop and put on the pot of coffee and proceeded to sweep and generally clean up before starting my day. The coffee still wasn’t ready when I finished, so I fired up the tablesaw to finish a ripping job I had started the day before. I was ripping clear red cedar into 1″ square boards, twenty–two feet long, for a boat project. All went well for a while and I was startled to hear a loud bang somewhere behind me and then the board vanished. The sequence may have been off but that’s the way I remember it. I stood there staring stupidly at the empty saw and wondering just how it was that a 22 foot board could simply vanish.

It took awhile but eventually I put the missing board together with the loud bang, and walked to the back of the shop 35 feet away. Standing against the wall was my plywood rack, complete with a couple sheets of ¾” birch plywood. Projecting 17 feet out of the plywood was my lost cedar board. The other five feet were on the other side of the plywood. I felt a little sick about the close call I had just had so I figured I’d do something a little safer for a while.

I grabbed the vacuum to clean up the shavings from the turning class I had put on the night before. I heard a rattle in the hose but thought nothing of it since little wood pieces are getting sucked up all the time. I heard it hit the impellers and instantly went blind. Well, not actually blind. I just couldn’t see. From the smell I figured it wasn’t a piece of wood but a bottle of cyano acrylate that had been sucked up and then shattered inside the vacuum. The fumes from the glue had instantly reacted with the moisture in my eyes and made them weep so much that I was effectively blind. The moisture in my nose unfortunately caused the glue to seal off my nasal passages to the extent that I couldn’t get any air through my nose at all. I was on the point of passing out when I luckily recalled that my mouth could also be used for breathing.

I decided to go have a coffee and wait for my vision to fully clear up. I staggered over to the counter and poured a cup. I put in the cream and sugar without a hitch but as I reached across for the spoon my arm bumped the cup and sent it crashing to the floor spilling hot coffee down my leg and smashing my favorite cup. I calmly switched off the perk, turned off the lights, left my shop, and crawled back into the bed that I never should have left.

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