Woodworking with a legend

Roy Underhill has been showing traditional woodworking on PBS for 37 years. He was a master carpenter and Woodwright for Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia before he started. He has concentrated on traditional 18th/19th century tools and woodcraft, and has been a prime mover for the rebirth of hand-tool woodworking in America. Roy has a definite, almost manic style of presentation, both on TV and in person. Always a joker, He keeps it light while helping to explain the intricacies of using a 19th century tool to come up with accurate results.

About ten years ago, he opened up a school for woodworking, where folks can come and attend classes, see and use the tools (he has a host of them available if folks don’t have their own) and purchase tools to take home if they’d like (there is a separate store, owned by Ed Lebetkin, upstairs). The schools is in a store front in the quaint town of Pittsboro, NC.

I’ve taken classes there on hand tool use, and a special one on wooden molding planes. Last week I took a class with Will Myers and Roy at his school, where we built a great “portable” workbench. This one is based on a bench that Will found in the Moravian museum in North Carolina, which they believe is a design built around 1800. As most woodworkers know, a good bench is strong, sturdy and heavy, so it can withstand the pounding without moving or breaking. This one breaks down into six major parts, the heaviest of which is the 4” think workbench top (around 100 lbs.). It’s fairly portable, but sturdy when you set it up.

There is something really enjoyable about doing all the work by hand. Every cut is hand-sawn, every hole is hand-drilled, and every joint is cut out and fitted. By the end of five days, we were able to take home a workbench that was 85%-90% complete, including a great front vise. The remaining work that needed to be done is relatively easy (I’ve already gotten about half of it done over the last 2-3 days, in the evenings).

I would greatly recommend to anyone that if they have hobbies, don’t wait till you retire early. Take the opportunity to explore them now, if only to confirm it is something that you’d like to do for a long time.

 

What new skill would you like to try out?

 

Mr. 39 Months

Frugal Tip – Bad Movie Night with Friends

A lot of folks are looking for things to do for fun that aren’t going to cost them an arm and a leg.  The amount typical Americans currently spend on dining out and entertainment  is something much talked about in the FIRE community, and many folks discuss ways to reduce their entertainment/dining out costs dramatically.

For Mrs. 39 Months and I, we just had a pot luck dinner at our friends house (we brought desert, others brought sides, and the host had the main course). Total cost for us was less than $10, the most was probably $15 for the hosts for the ingredients for the main course.

For entertainment, we all gathered round the TV and watched a pair of really bad movies. For many folks who are old enough, they remember a TV show called “Mystery Science Theater 3000” where a group of characters would play a bad movie, and snipe at it from the side. It was incredibly funny, and stayed on the air for many years (I think they may be trying to recreate it now).

The original team has re-united and has started a series called “Riff Tracs” where they pretty much do the same thing, on special nights. You’ve got to go to a movie theater to see it, but its very funny. You can also see it online a little later (Netflix I believe).

For last night’s viewing, we watched the Rifftrax take off on “Plan 9 from Outer Space” – one of Tim Wood’s movies and often considered the worst movie ever made (It makes Sharknado look like high cinema). After that, we watched “Amazon Women on the Moon” a movie similar to “Kentucky Fried Movie” and “the Goove Tube” – takeoffs on early 80s television shows & commercials, rater R with some nudity and adult situations.

In the end, it was a lot of fun, and a pretty cheap night out. I’d recommend it.

 

Mr 39 Months

 

Ya Gotta Have Hobbies! Part 4

I’ve talked before about hobbies, especially in terms of finding things to do once you achieve FI. One of my major interests in woodworking.

Most hobbies or interests, no matter what, have some sort of professional/amateur show, where folks who are interested can gather, take classes, purchase materials, etc. Heck, even the FI community has Camp Mustache, Chataqua, etc. For me, there is a show that travels the country called “the woodworking show” that goes throughout the US. It has about 100 different vendors, runs about 30 different classes, and enables you to be around, talk with, and generally mingle with your woodworking “tribe.”

As you come onto floor. Look at all the vendors!

Vendor selling a wide variety of materials (sanding paper, hand tools, etc.)

Classroom on floor

Wife knitting, while her husband was out having the time of his life. This is how Mrs. 39 Months would pass the time, if she had come.

It was a lot of fun, and I encourage everyone to seek out these sort of events for their particular interest. You will be amazed at how much you learn, and how much fun you will have.

 

Mr. 39 Months

Christmas Gift Hacking

A lot of folks in the FIRE community have talked about how they work hard to keep it a frugal holiday season – either cutting down amounts given, reducing gifts, or just eliminating them altogether. It’s a difficult task in this world of rampant consumerism, especially with kids.

 At the same time, many of us have hobbies that we greatly enjoy (otherwise we would go nuts now that we are financially independent retirees, or on the cusp). For those working on FIRE, hobbies are one of the things we seek out, knowing we will need to find ways to keep ourselves occupied once we retire – after we have spent the first 24 months doing all the travel and other activities we dreamed of doing.

 So one of the Christmas hacks you can do is to use your hobby to make gifts for folks. They don’t have to be extravagant (most people as they age don’t want a lot of extravagant gifts, because then they’ll feel they have to respond in kind). We have a friend who is an artist, so she does hand painted Christmas cards – which most of us end up framing and using in the house. My brother is an accomplished photographer (he did it for newspapers and for his business’ marketing efforts), and one of his gifts is to get photos together of the family over the past year and create a calendar for each of us with photos.

 Me, I’m an amateur woodworker. The woodworking websites and magazines are full, come around September, with easy gift ideas, and I’ve mined them for the last several years for ideas. Instead of spending $100s on family, I find that with $50 of materials I can create some nice stuff, and people appreciate the hand-made gifts more. This year, its oriental themed, desk frames for photographs. There are two-sided, so each frame shows two pictures. They are held in place with small dowels (the tops come off) so the photos can be replaced if necessary.

 

It’s a great chance to do something for those you love, which is personal, and I think more appreciated than something you just get off the shelf.

 What have you guys made for friends and family for Christmas?

 

Mr. 39 Months

 

Christmas Presents?

Many of us have skills and talents that we take for granted, hobbies that we have that bring us joy, just for the sake of doing. Mrs. 39 Months likes to knit and play the dulcimer. My younger brother has a CCR (computer controlled router) that lets him carve all sorts of things he can design on his computer. My older brother is an accomplished photographer, with an incredible gift to get beautiful pictures with limited, inexpensive equipment.

At a certain point in our lives, we stop needing “things” from other people, and its more the “thought that counts” when we are getting gifts. Often the gifts just sit there, unused, but we do remember that someone thought of us at the time. In that case, why not use your talent or interest to create a gift, instead of contributing to the consumer treadmill? It will save you money, and show folks you were willing to spend more than 5 minutes on them.

For me, I am an amateur woodworker, and I found a nice design for something small, but useful. I also had some old wood that has been sitting in the shop for several years, in the form of logs (my friend had a tree cut down, sawed up, and when he moved, he gave them to me).

So now I get to joint & plane the wood, cut it to size, create the joinery and complete the design. I should be able to get 8-10 presents out of this, which should satisfy us for most of the crew this year. It should take me about 4 weeks of off-and-on work to complete, so I have gotten started.

What do you guys do for presents? Anybody doing something really interesting this year that you would like to share?

 

Mr. 39 Months

Thinking about starting a You tube channel? Think Save Retire has a good post on it

Think Save Retire has an excellent post on what you need to start a YouTube Channel. It goes over how to set up, equipment, and content.

Want to start a YouTube channel? Here’s what you need to get started

 

He goes through all the equipment, the setup and the processes.

I’ve often thought about setting up a YouTube channel for financial advice to recent graduates. Not sure  how successful it would be, but it would be fun.

 

Mr. 39 months

You’ve got to have hobbies – part 3

Sorry for me not posting over the weekend. I was out again, hiking on the Appalachian Trail, this time in Connecticut.

As I’ve said before, I belong to a club that does outdoor events (kayaking, biking, etc.) and a group of seven of us went over the weekend to backpack the AT. It was a total of 12.5 miles (6.5 miles on Sat, 6 on Sun) with a stay at the shelter.

I really love taking these trips to the outdoors, and I look forward to the opportunity, once I hit my FI goal, to do more of this.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Mr.39 Months

You’ve got to have hobbies 2

Sorry for the lack of postings, but I’ve spent the last week backpacking the Appalachian Trail (AT) in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. In seven days, a group of six of us hiked 69 miles southbound on the AT. The group had a wide variety of ages and experience – from 31 to 61, from only having hiked before (no backpacking) to 14+ years of backpacking experience.

 

For those of you unfamiliar with the AT, it was originally created back in the 1920s and 1930s as a series of trails and small wooden 3-sided shelters (capable of holding 7-14 people) for people to be able to use on the weekends to get away to nature, get to the outdoors. Shortly after it was created, someone came up with the idea of hiking the series of trails in some connected fashion, and thus was born the idea of “through hiking” the AT.

 

The AT stretches from Georgia to Maine, running along the Appalachian Mountain chain for over 2,100 miles. Backpacking its length has become a sort of “rite of passage” for some people, where folks who are facing significant changes in their life (graduations from school, going out into the work world, retirement, job loss, death of a spouse or loved one, etc.) go to travel alone and experience nature. Many folks have called it “America’s Camino”.

 

Another way to through hike it, which I’ve chosen, is to section hike it, where you hike portions of the trail on the weekends and for weeks at a time, over a period of time. I’ve spent the last 14 years doing parts of the trail, and have racked up almost 800 miles so far. It’s a good way to experience the trail, without committing to the 4-6 months that it would take to through hike it.

 

I’ve said before that you have to have something to do (hobbies, part-time work, volunteer work, etc.) to keep yourself occupied once you “retire” or you will go nuts with boredom. I have woodworking, backpacking and some other interests. Whatever you want to spend time on, go for it. It’s one of the primary reasons to become financially independent – to get your time back.

 

Have fun out there.

 

Mr. 39 months

 

More on hobbies

 

I had the opportunity last week to travel to Pittsboro NC and take a woodworking class at the Woodwright’s School . Many folks may remember Roy Underhill as that manic woodworker who uses only the tools from the 18th and 19th century to make wonderful pieces of furniture and household items. I have several of his books, and took a class with him back in 2015 that was fantastic.

This class was taught by Roy’s peer and fellow woodworker, Bill Anderson. It covered how to make a wooden molding plane from scratch. Wooden molding planes used to be the way you would make intricate moldings in wood (coves, ovalos, etc.) for furniture and homes. Until the powered routers and shapers came along, these tools were prized elements of a woodworker’s kit.

The classroom is very nice, with ten workbenches, and plenty of room to operate. There is hardly any powered machinery (tablesaws, planers, etc.) – it is all hand powered work (there are a few grinders in back for sharpening). Each workbench has a basic set of tools, and some specialty tools for that specific class.

For molding planes, you take a piece of birch or beech wood, about 2in x 10in, that is set up to be very stable. You then cut in the profile you want on the bottom, create a mortise and slot for the iron and wedge that hold it in place, then create the iron (annealing it with heat, initial sharpening, then heat treating to finalize). There is an awful lot of tweaking which takes place to get the plane operating smoothly.

I find classes like this to be very rejuvenating, as you get to work with your hands – something lacking for a lot of us in today’s world. It’s great that folks with decades of knowledge are willing and able to pass their knowledge down. In some of the classes I’ve been to, there have been young folks in their early 20’s who are looking to make this a way of life. I’m sure the instructors love the fact that their knowledge will be passed down.

Whatever your hobby is, I hope you take the time to take some classes in it, to enhance your abilities and help teachers who are passing down the knowledge.

 

Again, I’d ask what hobbies are you currently taking part in, or are planning to take on in the years ahead as you prepare for Financial Independence?