Making Shavings

by Sydney Michalski

What is it about making shavings that is such pleasant work?

making chopsticks!
shown here, from left: chopstick template for drawing the shape onto the blank; carving knife; combination square; rabbet plane (in back); jack plane (in center); drawknife and dust brush; block plane (at right); chopstick jig for holding the chopstick during final smoothing

Joe’s workshop is incorporated into our living room. This would, of course, have been impossible in the days when he used power tools. A power-tool workshop takes a completely separate space, for safety, for noise, for dust…And even when you’re together in the workshop, you often can’t really interact, due to hearing protection and noise levels, and so, even when you’re together, you’re separate. And, of course, it’s quite a while before kids can safely participate in many of the operations in a power shop.

carving spoons!
shown here, a selection of gouges, a bent knife with leather sheath, and a bent gouge

But working by hand allows a full integration that’s really wonderful for the whole family!

Joe can be in his workshop while the rest of us are doing homeschool lessons or housework. He can contribute to our discussions and we can ask him questions. We can listen to the Bible, we can listen to praise music, we can hear each other speak. He can work early in the morning or late in the evening, if that’s what the Lord has on the schedule for the day. And if anyone has a little unexpected free time, it’s easy to get right into the shop and pick up a project.

We can be in the workshop side-by-side, working and learning and chatting. This is especially great for the kids, who can watch and learn and practice almost anytime. While safety is still a primary emphasis, and many tasks require supervision, hand-work can be monitored and enjoyed at a much earlier age than power tools!

It’s a slower pace, a gentler way of working, that still results in a useful and long-lasting product. It’s a labor that fits well into family life, that actually brings family members together instead of separating them into individual spaces…And it’s work that even teaches us to appreciate God’s beauty in the smallest of details along the way!

You just haven’t heard excitement until you’ve heard the delight in a child’s voice over an amazing shaving!

And at the end of the day, instead of a dust collection system to suck all of the fine particles of sawdust out of the air, we just sweep the shavings into a pile for kindling!

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:29-30, KJV)

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