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Kat and Kevin Yares

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Revealing Character

Okay, it has been sometime since I have written for this journal and every word has been dedicated to the technical aspects of this project. Now, it is time to reveal some character concerning this project, right or wrong and probably with some harsh criticism from readers. But here it goes.

My day job is highly technical, I am a Maintenance engineer with responsibilities that range for the tolerance of machinery in the hundredth's of thousands, that's six decimal places to the right. Day in and day out we churn out repetitive camshafts for the machines that make our lives easier. How completely boring, no pun intended. Personally I have been working in the machinery and automation business for the past fifteen years and have seen and done most jobs from the ground up. I started my working career though as an electrician and then apprenticed as a carpenter. I even had a small sub-contract building business for a few years. Then it was back to machines.

Now as it would seem my life is turning a full circle and back to what I loved to do most, work with wood. Only now we get to take this from the very beginning. Kat and I select which trees need to be thinned, log them out and reveal what lies beneath the outer shell of the bark. The true character of this precious resource shines from each cut of the blade. Grain patterns and the  feel of the fresh wood boards is something I think most woodworkers would give most anything for - to have this experience for themselves. And I am sure they do, when they work this into their pieces of true hand craft work.

Kat and I took a road trip last weekend, south on Hwy. 65 to some of the local furniture stores. This Highway has become a Mecca for travelers in the search to Branson. The new country music area of the mid south. It has been a long time since I went to look at furniture and the application of the precious resource we call wood.

Upon entry into the first store my nose and eyes were offended. What I am now use to as the smell of wood and the site of grain patterns were lost. Heavy lacquer finishes, offensive glues, nails, staples and thin pressboard have obviously become the norm. Mass produced furniture from overseas and south of the border are now the staple of this mid south area. What happened? Yes, I know the new global economy, where anyone can get a container full of something straight from the coast and set up shop and call it a grand showroom of fine furniture and antique reproductions.

We receive some industry publications concerning furniture and cabinet building. Actually I have seen these publications before, only they were of the metal working concern. Same machines but just a different material, steel instead of wood.  Here I am, fresh from a career of automation and now post scribing a grand irritation to the mass production of what is to be something warm and heartfelt in our lives. The furniture we expose ourselves and our children to. Are we actually creating non heirloom wood waste? Have you actually seen the items at the local discount store? Pressboard and cardboard all for a hundred dollar bill. Where is the value? Use it once and throw it out?

I will have a difficult time for any apology here. Yes, I realize that competition is fierce from all walks of the corporate level and from all corners of the globe. But to me - some things are meant to be handed down from generation to generation. Stories to be told with each piece of craft from mother to daughter, father to son.

Perhaps it is just my age now, my parents warned that this would happen to me, not in any formality, just a certain look and knowing smile. My father once told me that I  just notice it more. Well, yes, I do,  every nostril smell full of wood shavings pours back into my memory of childhood and my grandfathers wood working shop over the garage on Chatsworth street.

Now I am running my grandfathers old wood lathe, it rattles, it has its own personality. But with every turn of the shaft and wood shaving that comes from it, something is revealed. A character that runs deeper than the grain I can see with my own eyes, a smell that that is not offensive. Perhaps this is something I can hand down to my own children and grandchildren in the form of an heirloom. Crafted from what was handed down to me.

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