From the Boatshop
by Ron Magen 

"How do you know your work is any good . . . . They Steal It !! "

{also, sometimes you do get a ‘free lunch’}

I’ve always been proud of my work. {at least the successful items; I’ve also always wanted a wood stove . . . for the ‘other stuff’}. I guess we’re all touched by that same bit of vanity. It especially feels good when some stranger makes an appreciative comment. {typically, the comments from the ‘significant other’ or ‘offspring’ are viewed as having a vested interest}. Combining that with the local Township Ordinances about ‘signage’, and the old ‘grey cells’ start to percolate {"Ron, do you smell anything burning?"}

When we first got married, Joanne hadn’t traveled much, didn’t know about boats or woodworking, and had never seen a New England coast or a lobster. The last two items were taken care of in a week . . . most assuredly the last item to a ‘finestkind fair thee well’ !! Now, 29 years later, about a third of the things we own & enjoy, or decorate our home with, are of a nautical theme. What could be more natural than to ‘expand’ this a bit; AND attract some attention.

What would a boatbuilder have in front of his house ? {"NO !! This is NOT going to look like a ‘Nantucket front yard’, either !!"} Well, not only that but the Township might get a little curious. I was looking at some pictures from last Fall when we took our Malamute to Mystic Seaport, and had been reading about the ‘Golden Age of Sail’ . . . That’s IT !! A traditional ‘Bower Anchor’ !!

Some plans from one of the ‘craft supplies’ catalogs gave me a general concept and details of a fluke & shackle, and I went on from there. First, the orientation. Then getting the shape & ratio of the ‘arm’, stock, and shank to where they looked proportionate to the pictures of one at Mystic. I wanted to ‘dress’ it a little , too. It took about two weeks to get just the right mixture of Mahogany stains for the wood of the stock. After about 6 coats of Spar Varnish it was ready for the contrasting black ‘bands’. The completed arm & shaft got about 4 coats of primer, leaving just the ‘right amount’ of roughness to look ‘authentic’, and about 4 coats of Black {as in ‘black as a tax collectors heart’}. After gluing & pegging the ‘metal’ to the ‘stock’, a bit of filleting then a couple of final coats of finish. It still needed something . . . a length of 3/4 inch sun-aged line, attached with doubled Anchor Bend, with the end whipped & seized to the standing part, the other end an Eye Splice.

Finally, the PROPER emblem for a boatshop !!

Joanne gave me one of her patented looks. So, just to be on the safe side, I locked on a wire cable surreptitiously attached to the hedge . . . that should dissuade and ‘smash & grab’ vandal.

A week or so later, and nobody has said anything except for one 5-year old who asked his mother, "Does he have a boat ?". Two weeks later, I come back from an errand and it’s GONE. ‘Someone’, {and I know just who the teen b*****ds are, but can’t prove it} had cut {with an obviously short - ‘utility knife’? - blade} through the heavy line to get it.

The local community has {HAD ?} a quiet, {it’s really very boring in the ‘crime category’} flavor. The elected Commissioner for this ward {?} lives literally ‘around the corner’. He actually walked over to see me and was understanding and helpful. When Joanne and I were walking the ‘pups’ a couple of nights ago, I noticed that there was a house, between his and ours, with his last name on a plumbing contractor’s truck in the drive. It was his son’s home !! Now that’s ‘small town, watch out for your neighbor, America !

The local constabulary ? Basically could care less - it was like I was disturbing their ‘coffee break’ routine. What’s the value of creativity and two months of effort ? Not a clue. Don’t ask me, "Do you know who did it?", if you are then going to tell me you have NO INTENTION of investigating. That’s just as stupid as the people who took it because they can’t stand the fact that someone can actually DO or MAKE something REAL.

At least that’s how I felt about a month ago. Maybe I’m mellowing in my ‘dotage’. Or getting more sarcastic like W.C. Fields . . .

Haughty dowager to Fields - "Sir, you are drunk !!"

Fields - "Yes, Madam. However tomorrow I’ll be sober; YOU, however, will STILL be ugly ! "

I will take the theft as a complement to my work. If it was crap, would they have taken it? Would they have done it knowing that there was no investment in ability? I’ve just completed another modified design, more specific this time. I want to put it out to be seen. Maybe I’ll do it like the 30's ‘sandwich board’ signs . . . take it in at night.

To end on a more pleasant note, about that ‘FREE Lunch’ . . .

A few months ago I was fortunate enough to be one of a small number of people selected to do some ‘real life’ testing of a special type of tablesaw blade.

After I changed out the Ryobi combo blade that has been my ‘standard’ for the last couple of years, I wanted the blade professionally inspected . . . would it need to be sharpened to make the test fair.

It was a recommended local saw service.

When I was discussing what I wanted, and why, with the shop foreman he suddenly gave me a strange look. "Let me call the owner", he said. Turns out that this ‘small, local shop’ was more than it seemed; they also made blades. To make a long story short, I now had TWO BLADES to test. One, a ‘combo’ that had been designed for me, and now this ‘Glue-Line Rip’ blade ! Both FREE!! "Just give us your honest appraisal of how it works".

Chuck has my initial review of the combo blade to publish next month. If the continued testing shows anything different, I’ll update it.