Archive for the 'Sawing' Category

Oct 22 2010

The Craftsmanship of Dick Proenneke

Several years back, PBS, Public Broadcasting, began showing a few videos that have been produced about the life of Richard L “Dick” Proenneke. (1916-2003) The titles of these videos are: “Alone in the Wilderness”, “Alaska, Silence and Solitude”, and “The Frozen North”. Most people who have seen any of these, have more than likely seen Alone in the Wilderness. This video is of footage shot mostly by Dick himself, with his 16 mm Bolex camera, and the narration is writings from his journals in the book, “One Man’s Wilderness”.

proenneke1.jpgRichard L. Proenneke Photo

For most of us, this was our introduction to Dick, and his life. It is one of the only films ever made that shows the process of making a cabin in the wilderness, using only hand tools. It is a real gift.

Dick was a man whose life took him to a lot of places and exposed him to a lot of things, and those things may have been instrumental in helping shape his abilities for life in the wilderness. Born and raised in Iowa, he joined the US Navy and was a Navy carpenter, a rancher, diesel mechanic and heavy equipment operator.

He originally went to Alaska to start a cattle ranch, and wound up commercial salmon fishing and working as a mechanic. He spent the final years of his working career in and around Kodiak Alaska at the naval base there, until a work accident nearly cost him his eyesight. His life in the ranching business probably helped him understand nature and wildlife on an intuitive level, and his life as a carpenter and mechanic probably prepared him with the self-sufficiency needed for the next phase of his life. He retired at age 51 to Twin Lakes, living as a naturalist, nature cinematographer, and scientific observer in the remote Alaska wilderness. Continue Reading »

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Aug 18 2009

Musings from the left side of the Table Saw.

Bet you were thinking I was going to associate woodworking with left hemisphere brain functions. Well, depending on how you think of it, woodworking is probably a craft that uses both sides of the brain, so possibly, maybe.

But actually, I was going to touch on some thoughts and problem solving on the left side of the blade. Table saw that is. It really is the unaddressed side of the machine.

I am a hand tool user, and advocate. Heck, I even make hand tools, but I am also a blended woodworker. For those unfamiliar with the term, a “Blended Woodworker” is a woodworker who espouses both the finesse of hand tools, and the production of power tools and shop machines.

I make no bones about it, as each of us should follow the woodworking path that makes us feel content. Whether you are a power tool woodworker, a blended, woodworker, a hand tool woodworker, and even perhaps a collector, it’s all woodworking and that is a good thing! Whichever way you are doing it, your doing it right for you. That is all that matters.

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Many with table saws are faced with various challenges. Cut quality and safe practices are always ones that weigh heavily on the mind, maybe even the left-brain. Those who have the space and desire, enjoy a large cabinet saw with a 60 inch fence set up, maybe an outfeed table that will accommodate full sheets of plywood. The rest of us may not need a saw that takes that much space, and so we opt for saws with a 30 inch fence system, or maybe even less. Continue Reading »

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