Way of the Wood

When I set out to do something, the process and outcome aren’t typically what I expect. In other words, I’m frequently frustrated by an inability to do what I aspire to do. There’s way too much strain involved for a final product that I’m not satisfied with. That’s basically the story of my life: a lot of exertion with nothing to show for it – a whole bunch of frivolous toil – an engine revving in neutral.

Then a few months ago I got into woodworking. I’m pleased in the sense that I enjoy the effort and I’m somewhat satisfied with the outcome. I even like the ecosystem: I watch woodworking videos and browse websites for tools. The only unpleasant aspect is a slight tool obsession that’s conflicting with a constrained budget. I absolutely love the tools though – browsing through Lie-Nielsen planes takes me to another place.

I’ve only been crafting small-scale projects, like a 1:24 scale picnic table – and I prefer it (6 feet becomes 3 inches). I’m literally milling my own dimensional lumber from small blocks of wood with a little rip-saw and a tiny hand plane. I had started out with whittling and woodcarving, but the effort/output ratio wasn’t quite right. I’m not really an artist, so carving a block into a bunny isn’t something I can readily do. I can’t visualize organic stuff – whereas tables, benches, and boxes I can see.

Through the years, I tried at various times to get into woodworking but it never panned out. For example, my chisels are from a failed attempt almost twenty years ago. Finally, I think things are aligning. The projects aren’t works of art, but they’re good enough and they come together without a struggle. And of course, having a reason to collect and use tools is an awesome thing in itself.

More Whittling

To textually describe what’s in the picture: there’s an arrowhead, cross, spinning-top, teetotum, pawn, abstract pendant, spoon & fork, letter R, tiki statue, and a shovel. Some of the items have walnut oil applied, some have an added coat of beeswax & walnut oil, and some are bare wood (the pawn, spinning-top, and R have the wax while the tiki and shovel are bare).

To make the wax/oil coating, I heated walnut oil over a candle and dropped in some beeswax shavings. When it cooled, it was like lip-balm, so I dipped my finger in and rubbed the wood (beeswax is too hard on its own). I buffed it with a cotton cloth, although I’m not sure that did anything. The walnut oil is straight from the supermarket’s oil section. The reason I’m trying walnut oil as a finish is because it has the potential to dry over time (in a good way) and act as a better coating than something that remains oily (we’ll see).

Rich Whittling

The name of this blog is Whittlin’ Rich yet I haven’t done a lot of whittling. Yes I’ve whittled wood before, but not much. So for whatever reason, I recently took up whittling as a hobby. Here’s a picture displaying my many small projects and the primary tools I’ve been using.

I use basswood since it’s the recommended wood-of-choice for carving. For knives, I use a Morakniv 120 and 122, a BeaverCraft C1M and C2 as well as the tiny C15 — and of course there’s my strop with some polishing compound rubbed into the leather. To carve effectively, you need to strop your blades at the end of each whittlin’ day, in my opinion.

Just to provide some textual detail as to what’s in the picture: there’s a bunch of faces, some full-body figurines made from 1″x 1″ x 6″ blocks (not shown: one of the figurines has another figurine on its back), a small spoon, a carved-out box, my name carved into a block, a minature dumbbell, a wooden knife, an anvil and hammer, a sword, a sword’s handle, and a pine tree. Nothing’s officially “done” since I might go back to add details over time.

It’s been an enjoyable pastime over the last 10 weeks. Lately I’ve been using it as a meditation of sorts, as a way to keep an eye on my thoughts. While whittling, my mind tends to drift down random tangents about whatever so I’m trying to remove focus from those thoughts and remain focused on right-now i.e. whittling.

Path of the Programmer

A couple months ago, I purchased a laptop computer so I could get back into computer programming. Prior to that, I had been using an iPad Pro to fulfill my computing needs. Because I was mostly dedicated to writing this blog, I didn’t require much in the way of computational power.

Since receiving the laptop, I researched a bunch of programming paradigms and installed a few development environments. After the dust settled, I picked Javascript as my language of choice. As for tools, I’ve been using Visual Studio Code and the Chrome web-browser. Oh, and the developer docs over at Mozilla.org have been extremely helpful. And shout-out to all the various websites and YouTube videos that provided insightful tidbits as well.

My programming portfolio at WellCraftedSoftware.com is filling-out nicely I think. In just a month of programming with Javascript, I’ve got quite a few samples up there. Simple stuff on the surface, but it takes effort to write code that isn’t overly complex. My goal is to write the cleanest, most uncomplicated code possible.

I have no other objective at the moment but to continue adding to my portfolio — and in the process, practicing and honing my craft. I’m having more fun this time around — just programming for programming’s sake, there’s no rush to get anywhere in particular. Why do I want to climb the mountain? “Because it’s there.” And so I continue my quest, following the path of the programmer….

Repetitive Variance

Life is simple repetitions with small variances. It isn’t boring because we’re convinced that small variations are significant enough to cancel out the repetitiveness.

Walk in a new location, and it’s suddenly more interesting than that old location. Prepare chicken differently every night, and it’s exciting to eat. Gossip about a different person, and it’s always juicy. Watch similar plots but with different actors, and it’s new and entertaining.

The end of boredom comes from introducing minor changes into the things we already enjoy.