One Word: Life Saver

Needing help from time to time is part of life. As a bloke in my mid-fifties, I must admit I do find it hard to ask for help in most situations. I would never ask for help to open a jar of varnish, sand a table-top, or even change a tyre, but I recently found myself in a situation where I had no choice but to call for help. And I’m so glad I did!

It was Friday afternoon, I had two birds to kill with my one stone. My mission was to drop Jacqui off at the airport so she could fly to Mackay for the weekend to attend her niece’s baby shower. That was the first bird to kill. The second job was to deliver a custom-made whiskey cabinet I crafted for one of my old clients (a lingering obligation from pre-retirement times).

I had just kissed the Missus goodbye at the departure gate and was cruising along the M7 headed to Southbank, when my Ute started to splutter and lose power. I managed to limp it into a stopping bay, and with absolutely no idea what I might be looking for, I popped the hood. Of course, I couldn’t see anything wrong, and after trying to start the engine again and again, I resigned myself to calling for help. ‘Tow Truck Ipswich’ answered straight away and sent one of their trucks directly out to me. My experience was incredibly positive, and it made me realise just how invaluable a quality tow truck service can be.
My tow truck driver stayed in contact with me en route to where I was broken down. I received updates regularly to let me know when he was getting close. That gave me real peace of mind that help was on the way, and my stress levels plummeted.

I was surprised to find that my tow truck driver looked under the bonnet of my stationary ride to try and fix it first instead of hitching it up to be towed straight away. This is an awesome service that some tow truck drivers provide. If the problem is something simple, you could be on the road with the tightening of a bolt. If the problem is more complicated, the tow truck driver may be able to save you time by getting your car to a specialized repair place. And of course, he can give the mechanic a heads up on the way if he already knows what is wrong.

I was so impressed by the whole experience and even more when I received a highly detailed receipt that was essentially a paper trail of the entire process. Very handy for insurance, tax, or work claims.

When you’re in a pickle on the motorway, a good tow truck company can be the difference between an ordeal and a cinch. If you’re still wondering what was wrong with my old Ute… it was a fuel injector, but it’s been fixed and she’s running like a dream again.

Time To Clean Out The Old Workshop!

Humans are weird. We hold on to things we’ll never need because we hate to see anything thrown out. We buy houses and build sheds just so we have somewhere to put all of our stuff, and then we live happily for the next 20 years in denial about the growing pile of useless junk surrounding us. Until…. One day we go on a rampage and throw out everything in some sort of catharsis of the soul (and workshop). This happened to me and I’m sure you can relate.

My old workshop was very makeshift. I had all my gear set up in the double garage leaving no room for any vehicles. I hate to say it, but I was one of those people with a perfectly good double garage and two cars constantly sitting in the South East Queensland sun. When I retired, Jacqui prompted me to build the backyard workshop of my dreams. It was a lovely thing for her to do, but I have a feeling that while I was dreaming about a place to hang my tools and mount my table-saw, she was dreaming about avoiding another summer of seatbelt burn from getting into her boiling hatchback.

Once the new shed was erected, I got to work creating inbuilt cabinets and shelving to hold, hang, and display my gear. I even dedicated a whole wall to a custom shadow-board so I could have a place for each tool and each tool in its place. This new workshop was going to have something the humble double garage didn’t – organization.

After the painters left on their last day, I started getting ready to move my gear across the back yard to the new workshop, quickly realising I was in over my head. On that first day, I did three Ute loads of rubbish before smoko. As my back was throbbing from the loading and unloading, and my head was aching from the constant puzzle of how to tie every load down, I decided I needed a skip bin.

I did some research and decided that the team at skip bin hire Ipswich were going to make this move so much easier. The skip bin arrived, and I immediately began turfing beat-up old freestanding cabinets and tables into the bin. The best part was with a dust off of my hands the rubbish was someone else’s problem. All I had to do was throw it in. I found things in that garage that must’ve been there for 20 years, old bottles of dried-up varnish, now smooth sandpaper, 5 metric tonnes of wood shavings, and about 47 thousand bent nails. I was able to banish it all into the skip bin and saved so much time and effort on dump runs. I actually think the money I saved on tip fees might have paid for the skip bin. I noticed Jacq adding a few old bits and pieces from the house too. After my gear was all set up in my perfectly organized shiny new shed, the skip bin was taken away and we parked our vehicles in their rightful place in the garage. My marriage has never been so great!

Why I Love Woodworking

From a backyard hobby to a lucrative career, back to a backyard hobby – Woodworking has been part of my life forever.

If you punch ‘woodwork’ into google, you get thousands and thousands of results. Woodsmen and women around the world, some professionals, some hobbyists, are living their best lives creating furniture, art, décor, and gadgets out of wood. Ask any keen carpenter why they love woodworking and then grab yourself a cuppa and settle in because their list of reasons might take a while to reel off. Here are some reasons why I love woodworking.

You know when you’re working on something and it’s just challenging enough but not too hard that you kind of get lost in the moment and you lose track of time? That feeling is called ‘flow’. Nothing gets me into my flow zone more than planning, measuring, cutting, carving, planning, and sanding (ok, I admit sanding is not my favourite but you get the idea). Woodworking is a wonderful cant-stop-thinking-about-it kind of endeavour where you can often find your current project taking up real estate in your dreams each night. It’s enjoyment you just can’t put down.

woodworking tools

Woodwork is the perfect mix of intellect and hands-on artistry, and in this modern world, it sure is nice to have something so tangible and long-lasting. You think of a thing, you make the thing, the thing is good. It’s a delightfully simple process and the sense of accomplishment is second to none.

Not to get too sappy (pardon the pun), but woodwork is primal and ritualistic. I love the feeling of finding a great piece of wood and adding to Its story. From commercially cut wood, to storm felled trees, to driftwood, each piece of wood carries a story that I become a part of. That piece of wood is transformed into something useful, beautiful, or both. Often, that piece of wood will be around long after I’m dead.

One of my favourite parts of woodworking is having my own retreat in the backyard with all of my tools. When I finish a piece, I love to grab a beer and potter around my workshop carefully sharpening my tools and putting them away in their own special spot. I then sweep the floor of my shed and call the wife in. We both pull up stumps in front of my finished piece and admire it over a beverage or 2 …buuuut it’s not long before I get those itchy hands and I start the process all over again. There really is nothing quite as satisfying as woodworking.

Welcome To … Words On Wood

My first attempt at woodworking was in the 70s in the backyard shed that my old man had turned into a kind of amateur workshop. I was 12 years old and up until then touching Dad’s tools had always been forbidden. Just when I thought I would always be a spectator in the carpentry world, I heard that magical word spill from Dad’s mouth, “Doyawannahaveacrack?”.

Although it was really 7 words, my dad, like most Aussie blokes, spoke by jamming all his words together. It was the best 7-word jam I had ever heard. I jumped at the chance and spent the rest of that week running home from school to peg my school bag through my bedroom door, grab a Passiona from the fridge and then retreat to the shed. I would stay out there building a wonky hinged jewellery box until I was called for dinner.

Since then, I’ve never really downed tools. I spent 35 years as a high-end custom wooden furniture maker in Brisbane, creating some one-of-a-kind pieces from incredible cuts of wood. Now that I’m retired, I still enjoy woodwork each and every day, but now it’s from my own shed in my own backyard, and I make one-of-a-kind pieces for family and friends. I always have a bit of a laugh when I think about how my life has changed from custom bar tops and tipi side tables to cots, chairs, and tables sized to fit the dolls of my granddaughters. Oh, if my old clients could see me now.

The upside is now I have time to write this blog and share my knowledge, experience, tips, and yarns with the world. If you’re a wannabe woodworker, a weekend dabbler, or a full-blown professional woodsman, this blog is for you. 40 years of furniture making experience will be coming at you thick and fast, so buckle in, grab a beer and your level, and let’s talk about woodwork.

If you’re still wondering about that wonky jewellery box, I gave it to my mum for Mother’s day and she still has it to this day!