“If We Do Everything…”

September 2013

I’m off this morning to Oakland for a Lie-Nielsen “hand tool event” at which I will show three new planes – two smoothers and a larger, narrower jack plane that I finished this week.
I’ve worked hard to make these planes three very fine tools, and I went to bed last night thinking of Lyndon Baines Johnson, who when facing great odds in, I think, his first race for the Senate, told his staff, “If we do everything, we will win.”

He didn’t say “everything we can think of,” or “everything we have time
for,” or “everything we can get around to.” He said “If we do everything…”IMG_3208

I’m also thinking of something a friend of mine, a fellow writer, said  about luck. We were leading a seminar on how to make a living as a freelance writer, and someone in the audience asked how it had come about that I was writing a weekly column on middle-market finance and insurance for the biz page of the LATimes – a plum gig if there ever was one. I responded offhandedly, saying that I had gotten lucky.
My friend the writer corrected me instantly. “You got lucky, Juan. But you
were ready.”

I’m ready this morning.

Here’s the jack plane. The infill is black acacia, with
my usual modified French polish on top of hand-rubbed oil.
The iron is pitched at 50 degrees,and it cuts lovely shavings measuring
0.001 inch from some very old, very gnarly
quartersawn oak – the toughest piece of wood I have.

And the two smoothers. The infill is blue gum on the one, black acacia on
the other. The black acacia on this plane, incidentally, differs greatly
from that on the jack plane in both color and grain structure. The
explanation? The only thing I can think of is that the wood for the infill
on the smoother came from a source in Northern California, and that for
the jack plane from a source south of here, on the coast at Gaviota.

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