Recently, I drove out to my parent’s house to drop off my daughter for a sleepover. She was going to spend the weekend there. When I arrived, my parents had a present wrapped for me. Now it was not my birthday, or half birthday, or anything of the sort. This was a surprise. I unwrapped it to find a framed picture. There I was, working in the shop. All 3 foot something of me. “It’s to hang in your shop” they said. How perfect.
The picture is of me using the first real power tool I got to use. Now I had power tools of my own when I was even smaller. I had a little circular saw, a little jig saw, even a little drill. They were battery powered and everything. Now if you are paying close attention you are thinking, they didn’t have cordless tools when you were that small, and you would be correct. My circular saw had a cord from the tool, to the battery. Now this wasn’t a modern 36v saw like I have now, or an 18v, or a 9.6v. If I recall, it ran on AA batteries, but given how small I was, they were probably AAA. Did I mention the circular saw blade was not the standard 7 1/4 inch size. It was more like 3/4″ and it really cut wood (thin wood). Now some of you are probably thinking my memory is going and for those folks, have a look…. https://youtu.be/iqdfPUgo5-E. The rest of you are aghast that I had real power tools with real (tiny) blades that really cut (very thin) wood. To you I can only hold my all ten digits and leave it there.
So in all fairness, those were my first power tools, and I miss them, but like most power tools, there’s always bigger and better and more powerful tools and I moved on. So this picture is of me using the first “full size” power tool that I was allowed to use. It was a “drill press”. Now I added quotes as those of you out there that are in the know, when it comes to tools, will quickly recognize that this is not a drill press. It is a regular corded drill, bolted in a little metal bracket that is connected to some slides that go up and down. This allows you to use a regular handheld drill as something approaching a basic drill press. My father didn’t have an actual drill press until many, many years after this picture. I do not own one myself, but I still remember this one.
Clear as day I can picture myself standing on a chair, ski goggles on (Norm Abrams would be so proud), drilling holes one after the other in some scrap wood that Dad gave me. It had that great lever on the side, like on a slot machine, only instead of 5 of a kind, you got to make holes, in wood, and sawdust too. What could be better. Years later, I learned what could be better when my father let my daughters pound nails in to a softish piece of packing foam. Nail Forests, and the girls could fill up the foam with dozens of roofing nails – then take them all out and start over. Who needs a tiny circular saw?
Since that time, my father’s shop has changed a lot, and seen so many different projects from the bird houses he used to build (and I would stain) to pay for the tools, to furniture, beds, picture frames, shelves and so much more. Even that bookcase for the living room that didn’t actually fit up the stairs. A story for another time.
I have a shop of my own now. After many years in my house, it is actually now a functioning shop and not just a place to keep tools. I am very happy to have returned to an old passion, and this picture reminds me of where it all began.
Now I need to move some tools out of the way so this picture can take its rightful place in my shop.