Not All Shavings Are Created Equal

by Sydney Michalski

Sometimes, some of the best things that you discover about the path God sets you on are not the things that you expected, at all. Sometimes, when all you’ve been thinking about is the finished product, you discover that it’s process of the work that is really amazing!

Power tools use a series of knives or abrasives to cut and smooth wooden surfaces, reducing everything they remove to a cloud of sawdust. But, with hand-tools, you get to enjoy the amazing beauty of these shavings, the amazing qualities and behaviors of wood, that are simply part of the process of taking something from the tree to a finished product.

It’s funny, but one of my favorite things about Joe getting in the workshop is to see the types of shavings he’s making that day. Because not all shavings are created equal! There are, of course, those days when he is taking the first step, removing material on the shaving horse, or axing or adzing to rough out a piece, that simply produce flying chunks of bark and wood in a wide radius around his feet…

But then, as the stages become more refined, the shavings get even more interesting! There are the paper-thin, wavy shavings that come from smoothing hard-wood planks. They are naturally striped with the tree’s rings, every stripe representing a year of growth. They shine, naturally, because the plane removes them smoothly, instead of abrading them, and so the fibers maintain the luster that’s just part of their cellular make-up.

Then there are the tiny chamfer shavings, so ridiculously cute that you always want to keep them. The process of smoothing and joining wood brings edges to quite a surprisingly sharp point! So the final step in any project is to use the smoothing plane or carving knife to remove the tiniest sliver of a shaving from all edges. Your eye can hardly see it, but you sure can feel the difference!

And then sometimes, there’s just pure fun! A bright red hard-wood, a million tiny smoothing strokes on a pair of knitting needles, and you get a pile of curly padauk shavings that are their own delightful centerpiece!

And all of this, we are grateful for, simply because it’s another aspect of beauty that we never would have seen if the Lord hadn’t led us down this path of working by hand!

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, KJV)

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