The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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Old guy.


Every so often life imitates art, or smacks you in the face, or something like that, and this past weekend I had a run-in with a little something I like to call ‘irony’.

Because I had to work on Saturday, and because we celebrated my wife’s birthday on Sunday, I decided that I wasn’t going to woodwork, at least not in earnest. So of course on Sunday evening I actually did attempt to begin my “Paul Sellers” dovetailed shoeshine box. To set the scene, we were planning a trip to the gym, I had about thirty minutes to kill, so I decided that I could at least get the tails sawn and the pins marked. Though I did manage to get that accomplished, that is not why I am writing this post.

Generally, if I am woodworking and performing an operation that I feel needs an “action shot”, I will ask my daughter to take the photo for me. So when this happens my daughter will take dozens of photos that I have to sift through to find the picture I am looking for. Usually the photos are an odd mix of pictures of her, the floor, the ceiling, the window, and occasionally me. The good news is sometimes she captures a candid moment, and on Sunday night she managed to do just that. Before I go on, let me flash back to Friday, when I happened to come across a photo of myself likely taken during the spring of 1991. I was 17 years old then, and thought I was pretty hot shit. I posted that photo on Instagram if for no other reason than as a bit of nostalgia.

Anyway, in one of the dozens of photos my daughter took, there happened to be one of me lining up the cut before the “action” commenced. In that photo I’m hunched over the boards, you can catch the flash of gray in my beard, and you can see that my eyes are straining (in my defense, my garage does not have the best lighting for woodworking). In other words, I look like one of the woodworking show “old geezers” you’ve heard me make fun of in the past. Contrast this with the photo of the young, wrinkle free, thin, beardless, gray-less 17 year old I just posted, and suddenly I don’t feel so young anymore. In fact, I think this is the first photo of myself where I honestly felt that I looked “old”.

FullSizeRender (3)
Young guy…

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Old guy…

For the record, I am 42 years old; I will be 43 this summer. I’m not sure how to define young, old, or middle-aged anymore. I know this, in June it will be 25 years since I graduated from High School. I’m not sure what that makes me, but I know I am no longer a kid, not even close unfortunately.  And though I am no longer a kid, that still doesn’t mean I didn’t learn a lesson. And this week I learned to never look at a photo of myself when I was 17 and to compare it to a photo of myself at 42, and that was more important a learning experience than anything in the world of woodworking.



  1. Alex A. says:

    We have recently been going through our campus recruiting at work and it makes me realize how old I have become. it sort of sneaks up on you 🙂

  2. ausworkshop says:

    I have shaved off all my hair and beard, no more grey bits and I instantly look younger! Problem solved. Might be a bit cold for you over there to do that but over here it is still too damn hot so I had to do something. It’s been a strange March so far, felt like winter a few weeks ago and now it’s back to full heat of summer again. That’s Melbourne weather for ya.

    I’m 41 next month so I have a very similar photo as yours from 1991.
    My hat is on backwards and I’m wearing a Public Enemy T shirt (saw them that same year I think).
    I was also into Vision Street Wear and thought I was a hot shit skater back then.
    I remember watching and meeting Tony Hawk and the team when he came out here.
    He still skates I think. He must be getting on now too.

    • billlattpa says:

      Not surprised that you liked the Vision street wear because so did I!!! In fact, I also met Tony Hawk, and with him were Mike McGill and Lance Mountain. That would have been back in 1988 if I remember correctly. Funny thing is that I spent two years on a skateboard and it seems like one day I put it away and never picked it up again. Years later I sold it for quite a bit more than I paid for it actually. Apparently the deck I had was worth a little money as it had been discontinued.
      Either way, it’s both comforting and sobering that Tony Hawk still skates, as it he is a reminder of both my youth and the fact that I am also no longer young.

  3. Never complain about growing old, it beats the alternative.

  4. Kees says:

    Ha ha! Welcome to the old geezers club!

    (I turned 50 last autumn, feel real old now).

    • billlattpa says:

      So did turning 50 feel any different mentally? I didn’t feel any different turning 40, though there are certainly things about me that have changed, mainly my tastes in reading and music.

      I can certainly say that I am much smarter than I was at age 17. I did well in high school and college, but good grades don’t necessarily equal intelligence. So that is one thing I am proud of.

      But as another commenter said, every one of us gets old, for good or ill.

  5. bloksav says:

    Hi Bill

    I know the picture sifting problem all too well. But the kids are always so proud when you use one of their pictures for a blog entry.

    Regarding the age discussion:
    I remember as a child that I felt sorry for my dad on Christmas Eve.
    You see I got cool presents like a set of Lego, or a knife to use for boy scouting etc.
    My dad got those incredibly boring gifts like a pair of warm socks, a bottle of brandy, and perhaps a bottle of after shave. I was amazed how he could still look happy when he was able to see what kind of gifts us boys would get.

    The “terrible” truth is that those days when Christmas comes, and people ask about my wishes for Christmas presents, I think a while and usually reach the conclusion that a pair of warms socks would be nice, a bottle of brandy would be greatly appreciated and some after shave would be a pretty useful item too.

    I guess I am also an old fart now..


  6. bloksav says:

    Ups, by saying “also an old fart”, I didn’t mean to imply that any of you other gentlemen were that.

    It should have been

    I guess I am an old fart now..

    • billlattpa says:

      For Christmas this year from Mia and Kim I received a set of pajamas, a new hat, new gloves, and after shave (that is the honest truth) and I couldn’t have been happier. So all of our tastes change as we get older it seems. I had mentioned to another commenter that my taste in music and books has also changed. I read a lot when I was young and I still do now, but what I read is world’s apart (mostly).

      Truthfully, for the most part I don’t feel old. Of course I am not in the same physical condition that I was as a 17 year old, and I get sore now when I never did at that age. But all in all I guess I am okay for nearing 43, not great, but not bad either. I can happily say that I am still very active. If I had one real regret about aging it would be that I cannot play sports like I used to do. At 17 I played in baseball and basketball leagues. I played baseball and soccer for my High School teams. I used to bike and run at least 3 days per week. Now, even if I could physically still do all of those things, I just don’t have the amount of time needed to do it. That may be the worst part about getting older. But I suppose there is no use in complaining.

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