Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hatchet Man

If I made something like that log home the fellow's demonstrating at the end, with those tools, you'd never hear the end of it. I'd be insufferable. I'd turn into a highwayman, kidnapping passersby to bring them home and tell them how I did it. I'd take the gag out of their mouths from time to time to see if they had any questions.

The bespoke axe factory was fascinating, too. I wonder if that's a husband and wife team. Their wordless pas de deux suggests so to me. My wife and I work together like that from time to time, when we're boxing tables I make for my cottage furniture business here in Maine. We consider it a kind of date. Of course it's more of a hot glue gun/cardboard sort of affair. But the working together without thinking part is the same. I don't have a mancave and my wife doesn't have a scrapbooking room. We live together in a house with our children and do things together.

"Traditional," the title says about the axe making and the log house building. I like that word. I'd accept that word if you flung it at me. But there is no tradition in my family for anything I'm doing. My wife's either. Perhaps we're doing the most exotic thing there is, tradition-wise: starting one. Or maybe it's ad hoc, and will pass from the scene with us. Not up to us to decide.

We does it that way because we always done it that way doesn't cut any ice with us. That's not tradition. Traditional doesn't mean reactionary, at least not to us. It means honoring what came before you and not praying solely to the god of fads. Baseball should be played with wooden bats, but I don't mind it being shown on TV. I might make a Hepplewhite table, but sell it on the Intertunnel.

Reactionaries are people with ideas that don't work that are a few years old that they'd like to declare unassailable. Money can't buy class, they used to say. Ideas alone can't buy tradition. People have to want to do things voluntarily long after you've lost the ability to force them to do things.

It's not difficult to find a certain amount of contempt for traditional things abroad in the land. OK, you cutting edge beautiful people. Go ahead, start a tradition. It ain't easy. I know. The traditional heating up of the hot glue gun before the FedEx man arrives still hasn't caught on with the general public, but we like it.


vanderleun said...

Who, day and night, must scramble for a living,
Feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers?
And who has the right, as master of the house,
To have the final word at home?

The Papa, the Papa! Tradition.
The Papa, the Papa! Tradition.

Casey Klahn said...

This guy lives around here. Except his log cabin is a chalet. We don't say much about it, though. Reasons.

I really dig the other wood tools, like the long handled scraper.

Leslie said...

“The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice. Moral truisms have been so much disputed that they have begun to sparkle like so many brilliant paradoxes.”
— G.K. Chesterton

Your traditions are all sparkly!

Leon said...

the wood worker has a very constipated swing but it seems to work for him. he has real skills. that show i would have all sorts of errant chops around every cut. I could introduce him to any number of africans who could do what he was doing and they would do it at full speed with a swing like a pro golfer...well not on the fine stuff obviously. they of would have an adz about. i met some Tanzanian boat builders who were using hand saws they had just about sharpened in two in the middle... i've never seen such a skinny saw before.
but what can i say, they were all pretty interesting to watch.

Anonymous said...

Those logs have a nice ring to them.