I Love the Smell of Freshly Cut Wood

Today, I treated myself and got lost in my workshop to test a new toy. As a treat to myself, I bought one of those genius spot heaters that are supposed to save the world. My workshop gets very cold, and I have to add a couple of layers of clothing when I work there. Why not add a space heater? Anyway, the heater works fine, but only winter will tell. Currently, the temperature outside is in the sixties, and the basement is still warm. Now that I know the thing does function, the real test will come when it is zero degrees outside.

When I finished my Libre project, I closed the shop and went away to do other things, like writing a story that will become a book. Libre is the title of my last Intarsia work depicting a Bald Eagle in descending flight. Libre and I were fast friends from January until August, when I finished the work and hung it under the spotlight. Since then, I’ve learned that three and a half months is sufficient time to get over a love affair with wood. This month (November), I secretly began a new project, but today is the first time I cut wood again. I have decided to use Zebra wood, naturally light-colored wood with brown striations running through it. It is costly, and I learned it is scarce. It is expensive because it is scarce, or it is scarce because it is costly. It doesn’t matter; I only know that I shelled out over a hundred dollars on wood and must go shopping for more.


This is the first Intarsia project I am making that is relatively flat, allowing me to use thinner wood than usual. The thickness will enable me to cut faster. The half-inch Zebra cuts like a hot knife through butter. The problem with cutting fast is that I struggle to stay on the line. The more wiggles there are in a piece, the harder it is to match the wiggles of an adjoining part. So, the benefit of using thin wood is lost because I must cut slowly to get the precision I need to make the art piece look good. I can’t complain because this is why I do what I do. It is a hobby, so it is supposed to take time. After all, what else do I have to do, write a book?

6 Responses

  1. I do chess sets. Roman, Celtic, Viking solders 3-4 inches height. If I work every day I can finish 32 piece set in perhaps 13 months. Started when I was 16. Have carved 5 sets as there were long periods of other persuits.

    • Wow! Chess sets are hard, but the variety of pieces must make them exciting to carve. They are all legacy sets. The owners will cherish them and think of you each time they move a piece.

  2. The smell of fresh cut wood takes me back to my childhood when I would build things, but not well, in the woodshop at the Panther Boys Club in Fort Worth. Good memories, all from a smell.

    • We must add to living the good life by paying attention to all of our senses.

  3. When cutting a straight line whether with skill saw or saber saw I clamp a straight edge to the wood and press edge of saw platform flat and hard against the wood marker , cut cut cut away and perfect. I love the smell of wood chips. That’s why I carve in black walnut and cherry

    • Great tip. If only my artwork consisted of straight lines. Usually, it is filled with wiggly ones that have to match other wiggly ones. I see you have added wood carving to your list of accomplishments. I have tried wood carving and can do well, but I haven’t embraced it as a hobby.

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