Tak­ing Mea­sure

WOOD - - IN THIS ISSUE OF WOOD - See you in the shop! Dave Camp­bell dave.camp­[email protected]­ith.com Face­book and Twit­ter: @WOODed­i­tor In­sta­gram: @wood_ed­i­tor

We all need a John.

Maybe it’s the time of the year, or maybe it’s the time of man, but I find my­self re­flect­ing on child­hood me­mories more and more these days.

My ear­li­est mem­ory—I couldn’t have been more than 4 years old—is of my older brother, Steve, shak­ing me awake one Satur­day morn­ing, say­ing, “We’re get­ting a bar!” I popped out of bed and raced with him to the kitchen, where Dad and an­other man were re­view­ing plans for a din­ing-room ad­di­tion to the house, which in­cluded a break­fast bar. (I was so dis­ap­pointed. I thought I was get­ting a candy bar!)

Next thing I re­mem­ber, I’m driv­ing nails into the kitchen floor, “help­ing” a man I’ve al­ways called “Car­pen­ter John,” who was as­sist­ing Dad with parts of the re­model. I can’t imag­ine I was very good at in­stalling un­der­lay­ment yet, so I must have bent dozens of nails over, spoil­ing the oth­er­wise per­fect work of the handy­man. What I don’t re­mem­ber is Car­pen­ter John scold­ing, yelling, or telling me to run along.

I wish I had been more like Car­pen­ter John with my own kids when they were grow­ing up. I could have been more pa­tient, more en­cour­ag­ing, more will­ing to let them make their own mis­takes and learn from them. It’s not like I’m a per­fec­tion­ist; it just al­ways seemed that I was in a hurry to get stuff done.

Funny how you never re­al­ize the im­pact you can have on some­one else’s life, sim­ply by cross­ing their path. I have no other me­mories of Car­pen­ter John after that day more than 50 years ago on the kitchen floor. And I sus­pect he had no spe­cial mem­ory of the day at all. He was just do­ing his job. But his kind pa­tience kin­dled the tin­der smol­der­ing in my lit­tle maker’s hands and heart.

So, this Christ­mas, re­mem­ber to give the gift of time. Time in the shop, of course, build­ing those great hand­made gifts. But also the time to en­cour­age, men­tor, and share your wood­work­ing tal­ent with some­one just want­ing to learn. It’s what the car­pen­ter would do.

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