Trees with Meaning 2

•August 1, 2014 • 4 Comments

Monvrovia Oak

Before relocating to Fort Bragg, Linda and I lived in Monrovia, an older suburb in the foothills east of Los Angeles. We lived on Olive Street but few olive trees did. Instead Olive Street was lined with grand, old California Live Oaks (Quercus agrifolia)We lived there for two years during which time we purchased a ten-year old Datsun 510 sedan. Great car, but it lived those ten years in the greater Los Angeles area. Which means the ambient ozone levels (along with hydrocarbons, aldehydes, and oxides of nitrogen) rendered the car’s gaskets and weatherstripping only vaguely rubbery.

We moved to Fort Bragg in October of 1981. Two things happened here that month. One was the propitious opening of James Krenov’s Fine Woodworking Program‘s shop at College of the Redwoods. The other was, the week we got here, it started to rain. And rain. And then it rained some more. Fort Bragg’s normal rainfall is in the 40-inch range. That year we were in for over 80-inches. We weren’t ready for that but we managed. And while the car ran like a trooper through it all, it leaked like a colander. At one point, when you applied the brakes, a small tsunami would start from the back seat floor and break like Makaha over the driver’s shoes.

I discovered that the floor of that car (and others, I’m sure) had rubber drain plugs. I pulled them out, draining the passenger compartment of several gallons of captured precipitation.

That spring I needed the spare tire and discovered that I had overlooked draining the spare tire well. It too was aslosh with several inches of slightly rusty water that had been agitating in there for over six months.

Upon draining that pond I discovered an acorn that had fallen in from the tree in front of our house on Olive Street, 560 miles to the south.

What amazed me then and amazes me still is that the acorn had germinated. Now I’m not one to ignore such a blatant hint so I planted it in gallon pot. Like the redwood from Trees with Meaning 1, it grew. I potted it up. Grew some more. I planted it out along our driveway — yeah, that one in the photo. It’s now about 30-feet tall and 24-inches DBH. The utility company tree crew had to trim it out of their lines recently.

I grew an oak tree from an acorn. How cool is that? How old am I?!

Trees with Meaning 1

•July 31, 2014 • 4 Comments
Sam's Redwood

Sam’s Redwood

When our 26-year old son Sam was in the first grade, the first and second grade classes went on a field trip to the Georgia Pacific lumber mill here in Fort Bragg. Designed primarily for processing the huge logs typical of the Coastal Redwood Sequoia Sempervirens, this mill closed shop some years back, having too few trees left to warrant continued operation.

But twenty years ago the mill was busy with its last gasp, and the staff there was always happy to host the wee bairns for Fire Safety Day. On display for those innocent wide-eyes was a California Department of Forestry helicopter to gawk at, fire trucks, big bulldozers used in fire fighting and, of course, fire fighters galore, many of whom were dads, brother, uncles of some of the kids (small town!)

Add hot dogs and ice cream and you’ve got a pretty good day out of the classroom.

At that time, GP maintained an enormous greenhouse where they grew gazillions of redwoods from seed. The seeds were harvested by helicopter with a big can-thing with grabby fingers — a little like a crab trap for really big crabs. This was lowered by helicopter down over the tops of tall trees and, when lifted back up, would rake off thousands of redwood cones. With precious tall-tree seeds in them.

Those seeds would be planted and nurtured and used in reforesting clear-cut timberland. Or you could buy them for your own property; it was open to the public for retail sales. (A styrofoam “flat” with a hundred one-year seedlings sold for only $40!) Anyway, for Fire Safety Day each kid got a two year seedling to take home.

I used to go along to all the field trips — one of the great perks of self-employment! When Sam and I got home we planted his little redwood in a pot. It got bigger. Then we planted it in the ground where it continued to do so.

Sam’s two-year seedling is now about 45 feet tall and measures 15″ in diameter at “breast height” (which I learned on the field trip is how you measure tree diameter — DBH is Diameter at Breast Height.)

We have several of these “Trees with Meaning” on our three acres of this pretty planet. I’ll write about them from time to time.

How about you? Any trees in your life that deserve recognition?

Popular Woodworking Article about Ejler Hjorth-Westh

•June 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment
Ejler Hjorth-Westh greets the day

Ejler Hjorth-Westh greets the day    (click here to read an interview Linda did with Ejler in January)

If you subscribe to Sharp & to the Point, the Hock Tools newsletter, you probably know that my wife Linda Rosengarten is editor-in-chief, correspondent on the spot, interviewer, photograph archivist, etc. Linda also wrote an insightful and entertaining profile of furniture-maker, Ejler Hjorth-Westh for the August issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. Many of you had a rare opportunity to experience Ejler’s teaching style at last year’s Woodworking in America where he lectured on chair design and construction.

Here's what to look for

Here’s what to look for

Linda did a wonderful job on this very readable article. We’ve received our copy in the mail so all you subscribers should have received yours already or will receive yours soon. The rest of you — head to your local newstand, bookstore or wherever fine magazines are sold to pick up your copy. And think about subscribing — PWW is a great magazine for all woodworkers.

New! Glen-Drake Saw Videos

•June 16, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Kevin Glen Drake has embarked on a series of very informative promotional videos about how saws work and how to use them. The first two videos are available now with more promised soon. Glen-Drake’s saw designs are carefully considered, bringing new features and functionality to the genre. Plus, fortunately for us, Kevin does an excellent job explaining how his saws solve various problems inherent in traditional saw design and techniques. Well done!

Subscribe to the Glen-Drake YouTube channel to stay informed.

Speed Sharpening

•June 10, 2014 • 4 Comments

No grinder?  No problem.

WIA 2014 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina!

•May 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment
It's Not ALL Serious Work

It’s Not ALL Serious Work

Popular Woodworking Magazine proudly presents Woodworking in America!

Join us at WIA 2014, the Ultimate Woodworking Weekend. This year woodworkers and toolmakers get to experience the pleasures of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a new location for WIA. And Linda and I will be there! This will be Hock Tools‘ 7th time attending WIA. Every WIA has been rewarding in so many ways. We get to meet our customers face-to-face, demonstrate our tools, help with tool-tuning problems, and watch woodworkers like you find the joy in using the well-tuned hand planes that we bring along. And we love the chance to swap lies with our fellow tool-makers over a beer or two. Linda and I have never been to North Carolina so we’re are planning to spend a couple extra days getting acquainted with the area.

WIA is an incredible event for all of us involved in woodworking. We just don’t have that many opportunities to improve our skills with this many of the best the world offers in woodworking, and to personally chat-up the world’s finest tool-makers. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! So book now and take advantage of all the terrific things WIA 2014 offers you. You will be glad you did!

We’ll see you there!

New Summer Classes at College of the Redwoods

•March 27, 2014 • Leave a Comment

If coming to the Mendocino Coast for the sheer natural beauty of the place isn’t enough…

Every summer College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program offers several excellent courses. Their three-week Tools and Techniques class is always very popular and is now offered as a one-week plane-making class (the tools part) followed by two weeks of technique instruction. In this condensed, intensive three-week course you can learn the core basics of the nine-month apprenticeship program started 32 years ago by James KrenovJim Budlong, long famous for his technical accomplishment and teaching ability, as well as immeasurable patience and good humor, will once again be teaching Tools and Techniques. Students of all skill levels are welcome and I would encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to achieve a greater proficiency with your woodworking.

With chairs trending in woodworking these days caning and upholstery are taken up and de-mystified this summer at CR. For the first time at CR you’ll have the rare opportunity to learn to build the classic Danish Cord Stool in a week-long class by David Johnson:

Danish cord is a three- ply Kraft paper cord resembling rush, widely used in the production of Scandinavian furniture. Students attending this class will construct a simple 16 inch-square stool in oak and weave the seat. —  from CR Fine Furniture

David is also teaching a three-day class in Caning this summer. A lot of woodworkers shy away from doing their own upholstery. I guess it seems too mysterious or far afield or something. But why let a little mystery spoil the satisfaction of having done it all yourself? Take the leap from woodworker to Furniture Maker.

And speaking of upholstery, Wheeler Munroe will teach a one-week Upholstery for Furniture:

Wheeler plans to present an overview of a variety of situations and solutions that can arise in upholstered furniture. Daily lectures, slide shows and demonstrations will be followed by hands-on exercises incorporating the day’s lesson. Information gained in this class will be useful in the planning of unique projects and in the restoration of treasures. Wheeler is of the opinion that upholstery is a sculptural process with a variety of creative and accurate approaches. Her goal is to familiarize students with a range of materials and methods. — from CR Fine Furniture

Summers are cool here on the coast — the average high temperature in June and July is about 65F. Our local area has a lot to offer for the whole family, from hiking and mountain biking in the woods to long walks and horse rides on lovely, lonely beaches; great lodging, dining, golf, fishing and giant redwoods. Oh, and don’t forget the Skunk Train!.

See you this summer!


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