My maternal grandfather has long been a crafter of many things.  He worked on the Avro Arrow (a fact that he points out fairly often as he has a large poster of said plane on the wall immediately opposite his basement stairs.  He was thanked in the credits of the CBC Arrow special that starred Dan Aykroyd and in the acknowledgements of at least one book on the subject).  He’s worked a great many different jobs, lastly before retirement at McGraw-Hill publishers.  His house has a lot, and I do mean a lot of books in it.  If he ever decides to move it will be like an archaeological dig into the history of Canadian publishing.

He loves to work with wood.  That is his primary medium but as a result of this, he also works in metal, plastics, other bits of wood and old pieces of machinery, chairs, old tools and pretty much anything else that catches his attention.  He is a consummate jig maker.  Any kind of wood working he does, he feels it could be improved by some kind of gadget.  He at one time built a giant radial arm router with a sort of turntable base that he used to make 24”+ diameter cedar flower pots.  The most recent piece that he’s completed that I have had explained to me is his dovetailer.

Dovetails are used most often for joining things like drawers or boxes.  They provide a sort of jigsaw-esque pattern that resists some kinds of forces very well (force applied in a drawer situation tends to draw the dovetail closer together, for example, though they can be knocked apart by a blow from the inside of the drawer, thus, dovetails are not particularly effective when confining a struggling person).  He’s built a jig that fits onto his radial arm saw that allows him to cut very regular, precise dovetails by the dozens.

He’s not an extremely educated guy.  Growing up in Newfoundland during the war as he did, higher education was probably not an available option but he is a thinker.  He is the sort of guy who looks at a problem or a puzzle and just worries at it until he can get it sorted.  His basement contains a pool table that, growing up, probably accounted for my poor marks in physics as collisions on that table are rarely governed by any regular laws of momentum.  The pockets wore out years ago so he replaced them with cut off bottoms of 2 litre pop bottles.  For some reason he collected large quantities of 3.78 litre juice jugs.  They were empty and just sort of filled a room in the basement.  Then they left.  We’re not sure what happened.

I think if he were my age, he wouldn’t waste time with stuff like reading Instructables or Make magazine.  He’d be far too busy actually accomplishing things to read how other people think they ought to be done.  I look up to his example of a jack-of-all-trades and general handy sort of a guy.

bottled up and coming down (woo hoo hoo)