Cutting Straight…


You learn quickly that when cutting something freehand, (without using a guide on the saw), it’s very difficult to stay on the line. As you wander off the line the blade that is still in the wood you’ve already cut will hold the blade in the direction you’ve drifted off. If you try to get back on the line you will only be able to change the direction of the cut by a very small amount. And it takes quite some distance before you get back to the line.  Then the tendency is to over-correct and you go off the line in the other direction, so your intended straight line cut weaves back and forth somewhere near the line on both sides, but not on the line.

One solution is that when making a free-hand cut, cut so there is extra, and then do a finish cut on a table saw with a guide.

Another solution is to lift the blade out of the cut and drop it back in, on the line. And go from there.

There’s a better solution: Stay focused and correct quickly. The problem occurs because you’re too far off the line before you correct the direction of your cut. If you’re paying close attention, you can make tiny adjustments the instant you see the blade drifting. On the cut that I did in the picture I was able to see a change in direction before the blade had moved even a 1/64th inch off the line. Then with an equally tiny 1/64th inch correction I stayed on the line. When I finished it was a nearly perfectly straight cut.

I notice the same thing in my life. Stay focused and make small corrections quickly, before they cause bigger problems that are long and hard to correct. It makes life a little bit smoother.

What about the Lawn…


We have this ritual at our house.  I mow the lawn and my wife comes out and says those words I’ve worked 90 minutes to hear, “The lawn looks nice.”  It happens like magic. And if she happens to forget to say something I gently remind her with, “How’s the lawn look?”  Then she says, “It looks nice.”  During the spring, when we get lots of rain it might be twice a week that I get to hear those words.  It’s almost like I mow the lawn just so I can get the compliment.

But, I think the neighbors enjoy it too when I mow the lawn because of the entertainment it brings them.  I’m sure they think I’m out of my mind, which may be true. It takes about 90 minutes to mow. And I mow it with a push mower. I think I’m the only person in the county with a yard the size of mine that doesn’t use a riding mower. I might be imagining that I think the neighbors think I’m crazy for using a push mower, but it’s just the feeling that I get when I see them call their children out to the front porch and they all sit, and stare, and point fingers, and laugh in my direction while I mow.  As the weather turns warmer they just stay in their air conditioned house and gather around their front window with the curtains open. It never bothers me that they are having a cool glass of lemonade while I sweat buckets of water.  I’m just happy to bring joy into any life that accepts it.

But the truth is I really do enjoy mowing the lawn. It gives me exercise, I get to be out in the sunshine, and I really just love the feeling I get from doing something that I can stand back and enjoy how nice it looks when it’s all done.  Once or twice a week I get to take something that’s messy and turn it into something that’s neat and clean. I like that feeling.  For me, cleaning is meditation. And neatness, cleanliness, and organization around me reflects what I’m trying to be inside. There’s a peaceful strength that comes in creating that kind of environment.