Saturday, July 4, 2015

Vamos Chile!

I don't really watch football, but as part of my reencounter with Chile I started to watch the Copa America. Today Chile won to Argentina 4-1 in penalties. First time ever that Chile wins something football related. And what everybody says, is something along the lines of "everybody is having a bad time, but let's be joyful today because we won."

Chile is not working at all: pollution, corruption and stagnant economy.  I'm working in a post about this since I think that the illness is not Chile but neoliberalism. It's a best that only lives healthy till the 20s, after that gets fat, ugly and cannot get it up.

But today we won so let's have some joy.

What I wanted to point up though, is not the match in itself, but the final image. The whole team, many with babies in the arms, other with the children next to them, some old women, mothers of the players, walking around and smiling. Nothing could be farther away from the glamour of english football than this. But somehow I really like it. Today we speak of what happens in Santiago, and people will hear about that around the globe.

And what else did we do today here?

Indeed, we started with the first ever course in Japanese Carpentry in Chile, probably also the first one south of New Mexico.

First, Jose arrived. A somewhat shy chilean guy who works in a mine outside Santiago. We talk for a while and started to play with the tools. Ya know, having that talk of the iron, the soft and the hard part, the saws that you pull instead of push, et caetera. A bit of sharpening too. There Keiran arrived, our local kiwi immigrant, with some toys from Mendoza. Mendoza is a small town in Argentina, closer to Santiago than to Buenos Aired.  Last week I told him to visit la diamantina where he bought the double stone.

Chile has some 4000km of mountains, so it seemed to me quite unglaublich that there were no sharpening stones here. I talked a bit with my brother the geologist and he said that since they are sedimentary stones, you need lakes for that and Chile was too steep. But Argentina, not only good meat and soccer, also has some nice stones. I LOVED the coarse stone, it cuts faster than my naniwa 400 and feels similar to it in the grit. I totally recommend it, mostly considering the price (15 usd). I may take my dad on vacations soon and visit the mine by myself, will bring a few stones with me then. You can ask the guys to cut one to size for you so I can ask for a thin one to ship to usa and make the tour NY, Colorado, Hawaii, to hear some opinions.

Also from Mendoza Keiran brought a Peugeot Freres 60mm blade, very very nice. I just had once a jointer 80mm blade but was already too short to be usable, so didn't have real experience with these blades. I put the boy to flatten the back and then sharpen it, and after an hour or so he had a very usable lovely laminated blade in his hand. Plus experience sharpening freehand like if it were the most natural thing in the world. (Actually, now that I think of it, it is indeed something very very human – without the flint we are not.)

Then we did some dimensioning of rauli, one side each and getting a square piece in half an hour with help of the long dai.

Sawing was a bit more overlooked since they are still tense and the blade kind of bent a few a times, so I decided to leave that for later.

We started around 10am and finished at 3:30pm, me thinking it was around 12 but hungry as if it were 5. They used a kanna for the first time in their life, they saw what sharp chisels look like, and they got a hand at sharpening and squaring things up. And this will be their standard, their baseline. By spending a few hours with some fellow men I can put them in contact with something that will most certainly will change their lives for ever. And these few hours convey so much information, like if the whole year of reading blogs could be summarised just by being there, looking at sharp tools. I wish I had more skill to pass, but that's not the point. The point is to pass on the little skill you have, and keep learning together.

And that's all. You put an ad, answer some mails, and open your doors. People will come. The feeling we have that we are doing the right thing is not some idiosyncratic trait, but something deeper, something very human.

Hopefully next saturday I will have more time to take pictures, today was far too busy. I leave you with the work of Anibal, a guy who contacted me because of the ad and who's making nomi by looking at pictures and translating from english with google. He hasn't managed to weld the steel yet but soon will come. This is the first one he made. What's me, I'm quite impressed of the balls to reinvent the wheel from a small town in the world's end. That's what happens when you haven't got any ebay it seems.

Oh, final question. My plan for the next lesson is to start squaring something up and then build saw horses a la Mark. Plus some krenovian plane making. Any ideas of what else to "teach"? We got 4 hours so again next week 


  1. That is a real cool website...I may try one of those stones once I do get a job. It reminded me a little bit of this website, I'm hoping to order a pound of novaculite from there soon, if I can find out how big the stones are. Last time I emailed the owner, he was out of stones and the quarry was shut down for the winter. I'm hoping to get a nice 8" by 3" finishing stone, like a washita grade or finer...The leather strop definitely gets things to razor sharp, but it also curves the bevels. A coarse stone may be nice, too...If it's faster than a waterstone, and waterstones are considered faster than oilstones...That stone must be fast.

    You guys are infectious! When I first started woodworking, I couldn't even imagine WANTING to sharpen, let alone research different stones...I guess that changed when I learned how to sharpen well, and the results of a well sharpened chisel.

    That chisel looks real nice...getting inspiration for my own, I always liked knives that had some marks of their past life as a file showing. I feel like it's more honest, more pure to show what it's made from instead of hiding everything under a mirror polish.

    As to what to teach...I know I struggled with how to saw properly when I first started. Still have some trouble; Some days, I can cut perfectly on line, other days I have a little bit of a wander in the end of the cut.

    Maybe go over some box making? Dovetailing and the such?

    1. yeah, I told Jose that after 100 dovetails he would be good to go. He may have believed me. Definitely sawing is very critical, I need to teach them to saw gently, otherwise my saws will die. Talking of which, I showed them that you can plane using only 4 fingers, no force needed, just rhythm. Maybe sawing 100 cross grain cuts with two fingers only, something very zen-shaolin kind of thing.

      I like the idea of getting a new grinding wheel, it would be a perfect excuse to make a nice foot powered grinder.

      About the strop, I stopped using them when I moved to japanese blades, I feel they are not very useful in the harder steel. I do strop my razor with the skin of my hand though, and that's a japanese one.

  2. If I can think of one thing I would have wanted to learn earlier it would be how to pare flat with a chisel. To really feel the bottom of the chisel as you pare a tenon cheek or the bottom of kumiko lap cuts.

    Really great post, it greatly heartens me to hear that there is no stopping the inquisitive mind that has access to information. I just imagine what I would be doing now if there had been someone there to show me such simple things as sharpening a chisel.

  3. I'm reading "An Ordinary Person's Guide To Empire" by Arundhati Roy:

    It's important to understand that the corporate media doesn't just support the neo-liberal project. It is the neo-liberal project. This is not a moral position it has chosen to take, it's structural. It's intrinsic to the economics of how the mass media works.

    She says it's New Imperialism,

    "It's a remodeled, streamlined version of what we once knew. ... It uses different weapons to break open different markets. Argentina's the model if you want to be the poster child of neo-liberal capitalism, Iraq if you're the black sheep."

    And she says the cornerstone of New Imperialism is New Racism, which involves enfranchising a few corrupt local officials.

    Another interesting book "A Basic Call To Consciousness" originally from Akwasaene Notes, which includes a critique of the Western World from the perspective of Indigenous peoples, suggests that racism, as we know it in the USA today is the result of events in 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th Century New England and USA.

    More books:
    Language, Thought, and Reality by B L Worfe
    Science Set Free by Rupert Sheldrake
    Original Thinking by Glenn Aprachio Parry

    None of the above are approved by neo-liberals, which speaks volumes.

    The mistake I make is to confuse the personnel with the historical. I get bummed out. Understanding how the world has worked isn't necessarily the same as understanding how it will work in future. Working on a human scale takes me out of history and brings me back to the personnel, you might say. Nevermind that's how everything was done before fossil fuels, and will be done ever after fossil fuels are gone.