Recently, there was an ad placed in one of our local papers about a sale of tools and lumber from a woodworking shop. Given that the address listed in the ad was not too far from my home, I thought I’d make the short trip there to see what was available. So, early last Saturday morning that’s what I did.
My hopes in making this trip were that there might be some unusually good deals to be had on tools or hardwood lumber. I usually hear about these kinds of things after they have already passed or when I am not available to visit them. So, I was excited to be able to go and see what great deals there might be. Driving there, I was not sure of the circumstances of this sale – I thought that it could be a liquidation of a woodworking business that had closed it’s doors.
When I arrived at the address along a rural country road, I saw a house surrounded by thick woods with several outbuildings on the property. I thought to myself that maybe someone had a woodworking business that they ran out of their house, but were retiring or something. I walked down the driveway and followed the signs around the side of the house and down through a Bilco door into the basement. When I entered, I saw what looked like a typical home woodworkers basement shop.
In the first room that I entered, there were tools laid out on tables and several racks of various types of hardwood lumber neatly stacked all along one side. As I continued, I saw a shop made router table, some hand saws and also some hand-held power tools. I decided that I would pass through the entire shop first to get a feel for what was there and then go back to look closer at things of interest. Moving on into the second room of the shop, I saw an assortment of stationary power tools, shop made jigs, clamps, and hanging cabinets. Above a desk in the room there were clippings of furniture pictures from magazines that presumably were inspirations for future projects. Looking around, I could see the evidence of many years of woodworking in just about every corner of the shop.
As I continued to wander through the shop looking at the tools, wood and jigs, I overheard some conversations regarding the circumstances of the sale. It turns out that this was the home workshop of a lifelong woodworker that had recently passed away. His daughters were utilizing the services of a friend to help liquidate his shop. This woodworking gentleman had milled his own lumber and even had a dehumidification kiln in one of the outbuildings on the property where he had dried his own wood. I was told that he had a long history of making beautiful things out of wood for their home. Looking at the shop made jigs and cabinets, it was evident that this man had a passion for working with wood and took great pride in his work.
As I continued my tour of the shop, my thoughts drifted away from the specific things for sale and onto the legacy of this woodworker that I had never known. I couldn’t help but think of the countless hours that must have been spent enjoying the craft in that basement shop, the jigs that were precisely made and the wood that was skillfully dried for projects to come. At the same time, it was both sad to see the dismantling of this shop but uplifting to hear about the legacy that this man had left behind in the things he had made for his family and friends.
I would imagine that a love of the craft and the legacy of our creations is a common bond that connects all woodworkers, whether professional or amateur. What’s interesting is that I went on this trip expecting to see and obtain certain material things but, in the end I saw and acquired something else. Something on a completely different level.
I did end up buying a couple of things from this sale but, I went home with something both material and something intangible. I saw both the tools and the legacy of a woodworker who obviously loved what he did and did what he loved. Hopefully, I’ll be able to carry that legacy forward in projects of my own while using a few tools from this woodworker that I had never known.