Coping: With Workshop Time and a Magic Lesson

The glorious thing about weekends is that it gives people plenty of opportunity to use the workshop – when the weather is just right.  Not too hot for outside work, and not too cold.

Summers – at least here in the East Texas Outback – at OK for shop work, but anything outside in the sunshine tends to be put on hold as soon as the temp gets over 83F, or so.   Similarly, during the coldest days of winter, the shop only sees use in the afternoons.  When a shop is much below 55F it’s just too cold to enjoy things.  One of these days I may hook up the old wood stove I picked up.

Thursday, Panama dropped by the office looking for ideas on how to build a display rack for his lady-friend.  She’s quite good of crocheting at they’ll be doing a small booth at a nearby town street fair.  The problem was, they just got a table, buy nothing to put up the crocheted bedspreads and such.  Wanted a right-proper display and was looking for ideas.

It wasn’t a hard problem to solve:  An hour later we’d whacked off a couple of hunks of 4X4, about 16-inches long.  Leftover scrap from some past endeavor.  On each end of these, a 20” hunk of 3/4” plywood was centered, cut down to the same width, and these were the stabilizing legs.

As I was running this stuff through the belt sander, Panama got out the metal-cutting chop saw and sliced off a couple of 70” pieces of 5/8-rebar.  That’s the reinforcing steel that’s used on construction sites for concrete pours and the like.  Useful stuff to have around.

With a metal-chopping saw and a small welding set, you can jury-rig just about anything.  Make metal furniture, tables, even chairs if you’re patient enough.  I’m not that guy. So the welder stayed parked. 

Besides, Panama wanted something that would break-down into  pieces. Something that wouldn’t blow out of the back of the pickup truck.  So before the 4X4 bases were drilled, we punched =3” deep holes in them with a Fortner bit.

Not every home handybastard has one, but I’m always anxious to step up to the drill press to use Fortner bits.

The main difference between them and a regular twist drill, is that they drill a very smooth hole and the hole has a nice, flat bottom to it.

They’re not free; you’ll only get three-cents change back from a $50 bill for a set of PORTER-CABLE PC1014 Forstner Bit Set, 14-Piece bits at Amazon.  They are not general purpose drills, only for doweling and – in this case – rebar holes.. 

The reason you might want to pick up a set is that they work extremely well for any project that has round rod, doweling, or rebar in it.  If there’s one drawback, though, it’s that they are not set with really long shafts.  So drilling all the way though a 4X4 (3/12” roughly) will involve double-marking, turning the work piece and so forth. 

Which is why we didn’t through drill the base.

With the two masts of 5/8” rebar, all that was left was to find some more shop scrap – two pieces of 2X4. trim off the ends and round well on the belt sander, then drill two more holes about 2 /1” deep and slip these over the top of the rebar.  Now we have something we could screw and glue  a 2X2 “display bar to.

In  use, the top bar will have tissue paper on it to really show off the handiwork.  The 2X4s look pretty nice, and Panama highlighted them with a coat of “Safety Yellow” spray paint.

The whole process, including the drying time for the vertical rebar (painted with some black wrinkle-finish) took about 90-minutes from start to finish.

And that’s why fall in a workshop is so much fun:  You can walk into the shop with a problem and be having coffee two hours later with the glowing sense of accomplishment that comes from seeing a problem magically appear in the physical world as a “solved” whatchamacallit.

I’ve read a lot on how the Magus, Magik, Magi, or Alchemists worked.

They have a very interesting notion about how the “creation” process works.  To them, there were “veils” in the mind.  And what workshop dwellers are doing when they “work from the head and heart” (not from a set of plans – boring rote stuff like that ) is they “birth” the stuff that humans do on their way to be junior parts of a larger Creator.

It’s the ring-not-pass parts that are particularly instructive.

You begin with a problem and as you think about it, an ember of an idea comes into your head.  You gently blow on the idea, twisting it around this way and that, and next thing you know it bursts into the flame of a “hot idea.”  End of ring-not-pass or Veil #1.

The next step is to stand back (mentally) from your idea and see what it looks like.  This is the putting tinder on it.  More and more detail is added to the mental picture.  Ring-not-pass or Veil 2.  You can’t build the sketch.  You need the clarified vision.

Now we get along to the material selection and cutting.  It’s not to difficult:  You simple look closely at your detailed image in the mind and translate it into dimensions that you can cut and materials you have on hand.  Veil #3.

Once step 3 (translation into measurements) is done, Step 4 is the actual cutting of material to the right size.  As Panama and I were tossing the idea around (steps 1 and 2) we got agreement on what the general look of the thing should be.  Rebar is strong stuff, but it comes in 20-foot lengths and that would have been absurdly high and the small base wouldn’t have held it up.  So the dimensioning in step 3 is important.  We agreed the right height would be about 70-inches.

Step 5 was the “test and assemble” stage.  The rebar went into the bases, the 2X4s were slipped over the tops, and a couple of quick clamps pretended to hold the top bar in place.  This wasn’t particularly difficult, just takes a bit of time going from step 3 (dimensioning) through step 4 (cut and prep) to set up for the real Veil of interest…Step 5.

Feedback comes along as Step 6.  This is where the Magician tweaks the Great Work this way or that.  Panama had the machinery yellow safety paint on his version – I’d missed that in my visioning.

Last, but not least, once the tweaks are done, you get to the final step in the Magic Process:  Beholding.  This is the delicious moment when you sit back, look at what you’ve built and enjoy the “use case” (to borrow a software term).

To recap:  The “Magic of Creation” is what?

  1. Loving the problem and seeing it as a Junior “Creator in Training” moment.
  2. Envisioning the Perfected Solution
  3. Translation into measurements
  4. Cutting the cloth or material
  5. Test assembly
  6. Tweaks to it’s really the Perfect Solution
  7. Beholding and enjoying the work.

A while back, I told you we were going to turn what was a simple tin-roof covered porch into a sunroom using left over materials from our house remodeling.

It came out nice enough; The space is 8-feet square, but it there’s something about having a front porch protected from rain, wind, snow, heat, cold, and bugs that’s very comforting. 

Toss in a couple of old director chairs, carpet, and Elaine’s decorative painting and now you have something that’s really nice and eclectic and functional.

And cheap.  Our total cost for the room was a new glass storm door ($139), 5-sheets of sheetrock, and the flooring.  Maybe another $150.

Now, on weekend mornings, we sit out there, have coffee, read, and watch the deer wander by.  Eventually, we’d like to get chairs that recline, so we can drift from coffee to book to snooze, but one thing at a time.

The most important part of this morning’s note, though, really comes down to this:  Average people – when the weekend shows up – sit around and do “average things.”  Keeps them nice and…well….average!

On the other hand, following the well-defined steps of “magic” one can seize on any part of their environment and begin to mold parts of it to become expressions of their own unlimited creative power.

There may be a Creator out there who organizes things like yesterday’s eclipse.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t each be Junior Creators in Training.  No matter where you are, there’s plenty of raw material for it…even if it’s something as subtle as rearranging the furniture.

It’s also a nice way of looking at people.  Since you can pretty much judge people by their fruits you can get an idea of class standings by looking around you.  Money isn’t everything…it’s just one kind of “creating” and not a particularly honest one at that. More like “”trying to “buy a grade” in school, oftentimes.

But people who make money and create? Tons to be learned from the study of them. 

I could wax on about this endlessly, but my bottom line is what?

Weekends are Magic.

Sunday Special

I just haven’t had time yet to distill down all the comments on the “Reproduction of the Gods?” piece, so I will try and get a special report on that up early Sunday morning in time for coffee.

Don’t get used to me doing this, but the topic seems to be of broad interest – and since the emerging global mass consciousness seems to be “awaring” itself on the ‘net,  it’s brain-fueling to  consider some of the possibilities…. so maybe Sunday morning.

A Web Insight into People’s Behavior

Thursday I mentioned that the two most recent posts from UrbanSurvival now show up on our home page – so people don’t have to click as much.  I attributed that to people’s inherent laziness.  But reader Drew explains that it isn’t laziness as I had presupposed:

George –

I quit reading when you went to the click format, happened to stop by today and was pleasantly surprised to find the old format back.

For me it was not a matter of not wanting to click, it’s because it doesn’t flow well with all the clicking back and forth. When I read it in the one page format, it just flows on as I read down, but when I start clicking I’m more likely to get distracted and go to another page and maybe come back to what I clicked, or maybe not. The clicking disrupts the train of thought.

My .02¢. Thanks for a great read.

Thanks for pointing this out.  I had just assumed that most people had the same “invisible click through programming” installed between the ears that I do.  Apparently not, so point well-taken…thank you.

My friend Gaye from sent me a note catching that we are only sending out summaries on the daily feed still and from there it’s a click to “read more” still.  But I figure a feed is sort of like a headline on Drudge…just a bit longer.

OK, off to scan the news and see if the market will hold onto the gains of this week…

Write when you break-even, get rich, or just break…