About woodworking,art and following foolish ideas to the ends of the earth
As a younger man I spent countless days wandering through the woods looking for dead or downed trees that could become my next woodworking project. I found that in any given parcel of woods there was always enough dead or dying trees to build more projects than I had time for. I had many adventures milling the trees with a chainsaw mill on site and then trying to figure out a way to get the often large amounts of wood usually a whole tree out of often dense woods and to my shop without the use of any equipment other than my back. Sometimes creeks needed to be forded,bees escaped from, or snakes dodged. The countless hours I spent in the woods deciding which trees to mill and the laborious act of cutting entire trees into boards with a chainsaw gave me much-needed time to think about design. It also gave me experience in the way trees grow and also die and how the experiences that tree had during its lifetime such as drought,wet years,disease,a lot of sun,little sun,and other stresses shape everything from the heart of the wood to the outside bark. During those days I was often so wrapped up and in my own little world for hours inside thick woods I occasionally got caught in rain showers and once in a significant thunderstorm. In which like the other animals I sought the refuge among the trees canopy and used its trunk as an armchair and was amazed of just how comfortable it was naturally. As I sat there huddled under a tree with chainsaw chaps so covered in sawdust I looked more tree than human I watched the rain fall down from the perspective of the tree as I sat in its clutches in one of the most comfortable seats I had sat in. It reminded me of something a great art teacher had once told me as we were sculpting head bust from clay he said that he found it amazing that of all the fancy tools an artist can buy to help shape the face the eyes,nose,cheeks,chin,jaw line, that the best tool was your hands. That for instance the cheek could be formed by cupping your palm and applying pressure to the clay in just the right area would create a cheek “naturally”. As if nature intended it to be that way as if everything in this world is like puzzle pieces that all seamlessly fit together if you can recognize the pattern. I don’t get to spend as much time in the woods custom chainsaw milling but the lessons I learned in the woods stay with me as well as the inspiration and passion. I take the use of trees seriously it was all that time I spent in the woods that shaped what I have become as a woodworker and the way I approach life. When you understand what even one trees existence means to the planet from a cellular level all the way down to an aesthetic level than you must bear the weight of responsibility in how you use even one tree.
Tohner S. Jackson