Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Top Ten (or Five, actually, or maybe Six...): A Splintered History of Wood

I've had this book for 6 weeks now. I'm on page 66, so I'm progressing at a rate of about 11 pages a week. Not that it's dense - far from it. It's incredibly engaging. And it's already one of my all time favorite books. At this rate, I look forward to 31 more weeks of enjoyment - and then I bet I go back to the beginning and start all over again.

The reason it's taking me so long is that everything he talks about makes me want to set the book down and tell somebody, usually my wife who isn't even interested in woodworking, about 50,000-year-old logs salvaged from New Zealand bogs. They're ancient kauri trees, and there's a photo of one slab that's 20 feet long, 5 1/2 feet wide, 4 1/2 inches thick, contains over 500 board feet of wood - and has zero knots! How can I keep reading? You just have to stop and share this with somebody. And it happens again and again, page after page.

I've just finished reading the section about blind woodworkers. Once again, I had to stop and tell my wife - and at least this time it's relevant to her work as an Occupational Therapist. She was interested in how they measure with something called a Click Ruler - a tape measure that clicks with each 1/16th of an inch that you withdraw. It sounds like something she could use in her therapy practice.

Before that, I read about a guy who chainsaws designs onto wooden pencils, and another guy who carves Ferraris out of wood, Ferraris you can drive and that also float on water. I mean, you can't just read this stuff. You have to go out and grab somebody by the collar and say, "Did you know that there's a guy in England who as a hobby has collected over 7,000 species of wood? And that's only 1/10th of the species in the world?"

The book is very reader-friendly, with easy writing and a warm personality behind the words, lots of photos. For instance, did you know that cork comes from oak trees? And have you ever wondered how cork is harvested?

1 comment:

  1. I was doing the same thing to my partner! But finally gave up after seeing the deer in the headlights look one too many times.

    I'm on page 195 and wish I could find a way to memorize all the contents so I could rattle them off at will and impress the heck out of my ww buddies. ; )