Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Kilted Woodworker...

Picture this...

A large crowd of galoots (that would be hand-tool enthusiasts), milling about in unbifercated garments (tartan or contemporary), 2" slicks sticking out from the tops of their right leg stockings, attending demonstrations and classes on hand tool use and techniques. Rivalries aside, a MacDonald shares a workbench with a Campbell, both eager to learn from some of the masters of the trade. After a morning of classes and lectures and a hearty lunch of haggis and shepherd's pie, friendly competitions begin in a nearby field.

Welcome to the first annual Neanderthal Kilted Woodworking Conference!

Obviously, picking the proper location would be crucial to such a gathering. We could hold it in Dublin, OH, Aberdeen, MD, or Ayr, NE.

In addition to the normal classes on mortise/tenon and dovetail joinery, using hand saws, sharpening, and tuning hand planes, we could have demonstrations with titles like:
Tapering Your Caber With Spokeshaves
How Sharp Is Sharp? Methods Of Shearing Sheep With A Chisel
The Shop Apron vs. The Sporran
Carve Your Own Sgian Dubh Handle
Installing Crown Moulding While Kilted (a lesson from the Modest Woodworker Series)
Finish The Finish - Rubbing Out Shellac With Sheep Wool

Friendly competitions might include:
Maydole Hammer Throw - Like the traditional hammer throw, but with a 16 oz. hammer instead of a 16 lb. hammer. Slightly farther distances should be expected.
Pipe-Clamp Toss - A long, black pipe clamp is stood upright and hoisted by the competitor, where it is balanced in the vertical position. It is then thrown in such a way so that it turns end over end and strikes the ground, falling away from the athlete. Points are scored according to how close the clamp comes to landing in the 12 o'clock position.
Stanley Transitional Plane Put - A take on the traditional stone put, this is a nod to the legendary Patrick Leach and a great way to put some of these old tools to good, and final, use.
Throwing Chisels - Competitors attempt to stick their old pitted chisels in a target at 30 paces. The target? An effigy of Norm Abrhams - this is a neanderthal conference, after all!

Most importantly, we could discuss the pleasures of the complete freedom one can only achieve by using hand tools while being kilted.


Kari Hultman said...

Ethan, if you ever host such an event, make sure someone films it!

BTW, what would the lady woodworkers wear to this conference???

Ethan said...

Film, digital camera, audio - we'll have it all, Kari!

I think my bigger struggle would be in getting Chris Schwarz to wear a kilt while teaching hand tool basics, don't you?

Your question is an interesting one, Kari. It all depends upon your view of the kilt, I suppose. I don't think of the kilt as a costume, so I would hate to see it turn into a Renaissance Fair-like setting, with turkey legs and funnel cakes (though I suspect I could even get my wife to attend with temptations of the latter).

To me, the kilt represents two things - it is a symbol of Celtic heritage and a billboard for the message of freedom and comfort. If you're wearing a kilt, chances are good you're a proponent of one or both.

There is, in fact, nothing at all wrong with a woman wearing a kilt. If you've ever seen a pipe and drum band in a parade (or at a Scottish Festival), then you know they can carry off wearing one just as well as a man.

But surely any unbifercated garment that makes you feel comfortable would be most welcome. :)