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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blood on the Block

When you first use razor sharp tools to carve wood, you learn one thing fast, and it's a lesson usually written in blood: keep your hands clear in case the gouge slips. I learned that lesson in March of 2002, while carving out a portrait of my brother. The gouge I was using, which was very dull, caught on a particularly rough patch of wood. No quitter I, I put my weight into that gouge, knowing the wood just HAD to give. Because the knife was so dull, it skipped over the wood and right into the hand, which was holding the block. This was about 3 weeks into my woodcutting adventure, when I didn't know bench hooks from barens, so I was clueless. But I learned fast. And though I've had a few scrapes here and there, I have wisely avoided putting myself in the position of being punctured like that first time.

Ah, but that's me. Flash forward seven years to this afternoon. I'm calmly carving a block in my studio when the Little Woman decides she wants to play with my toys. I give her my sharpest gouge, as that's safest. She took an old block of poplar i had from before I started using plywood. Poplar is soft, but I prefer the "give" plywood afords the blades. Poplar is also very slippery at times.

She busied herself nibbling away at the wood. I saw the knife slip a little, and I admonished her to keep her hands if front of the blade. Another slip. I suggested she stop. I stopped carving and turned around for a second to strop my blade, and she walked out of the studio without a sound, and I figured she'd had enough tool time. I sat down to resume, and that's when I saw the drop of blood on the floor.

I ran upstairs, where she had her hand under the water, cleaning the wound. I fetched her a bandage and patched her up with a kiss to her boo boo.

And balances of knowledge once again tip toward the wise (or, at least, wizened).

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