Wrapping up 2009

We are teaching the 2 Kids Chairs class this week.  In this class each student makes a child’s sack back and a matching youth chair for use at the table. I have written before about the joint we worked out to attach the footrest. I am proud of it and the way it snaps together and self locks.  I don’t know of any other place in woodworking where this technique is used. It is unique and only known here.

This class is also our last of the year and wraps up 2009. We end our school year with a ceremony we call the Burning of the Backboards. It occurs late Friday afternoon after graduation when we all gather at the incinerator behind the shop and burn the year’s backboards. Those who have studied with us know that we always ask them to take the time to sign a backboard so they are with us symbolically at this ceremony. The first backboard into the fire will be the one signed by the members of the first class of the year.  It has been hanging on the wall all these months, awaiting its moment of glory.

We have an additional ceremony that will take place just before the Burning. Sir Brian Offutt will be inducted into the Alpha Omega Society.  This is accomplished by attending both the first and last class of the year. It doesn’t happen often. In fact, only nine times previously and the last induction was in 2004. Brian will be given a certificate and a pewter mug with the Greek letters Alpha Omega, his name, and the year engraved on it.

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Recently I mentioned the First Knights. Within days I heard from all of them for different reasons.  Lord Lyndon Gallagher was here for the balloon back. Sir Stig Brandvik is here this week for the 2 kids chairs. And Sieur Vincent Lavarenne emailed me with some of his news.

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Our sandpaper sharpening method, as described a while ago in Popular Woodworking is going international. Sieur Vincent Lavarenne, Premier Chevalier de France, is writing an article about our method in a French woodworking magazine Le Bouver, which means Grooving Plane.  Sieur Vincent has been demonstrating and promoting the method to his woodworking association and through his efforts he attracted the magazine’s attention.

He says he met some resistance to the method from French woodworkers. He converted them with a clever demonstration. He destroyed the cutting edge of a carving tool by chiseling some limestone. Then, in 47 seconds he restored the edge  using our sandpaper method. The 47 included time to clean up and put away his sharpening set up.

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We heard from Lord Lyndon Gallagher, who was here for the Balloon backs two weeks ago. He reports he donated a sack chair to the local Firemen’s Auction for the needy.  The chair fetched $700.  By the way, Lord Lyndon brought us some great Canadian beer that Fred, Don, and I will enjoy after the Burning. We always ask Canadian students to bring us some craft beer from their area. They make great beer, and we aren’t likely to ever stumble across these small local brands down here.

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I joined the 21st century this weekend when started a Facebook page. I’m in the process of building it. Fortunately, I have a talented computer consultant to walk me though the process – my 17 year old son. Otherwise, I’d be lost. I am not sure how I am going to use the page. I’m thinking of keeping this one for my personal use– to stay in touch with my extensive family (I am one of nine kids) and close friends.  Currently, I plan on setting up another for The Institute. If you want to join as a friend of The Institute, that will probably be the place, rather than my personal page. Meanwhile, be patient with me while I sort all this out.

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