All in a day’s work

I never ask or expect anything in return for woodworking favors. As far as I’m concerned, using my skills to help a friend is its own reward.

One of my neighbors – not the psycho one – asked me a leading question last week. “Hey, A.J., do you have a couple clamps?” Asking a woodworker if he has clamps is a dumb question – the answer is always “yes.” (Now, if he’d asked if I had enough clamps, the answer would have been exactly opposite.)

He wanted to borrow some clamps to fix a cabinet door his toddler had broken. Instead of just giving him the clamps, I asked to take a look at the door. Glad I did. The little guy did a real number on it: The stile with the hinges had broken completely off. A portion of that stile had split loose and remained stuck to the center panel. Meanwhile, the opposite stile was loose on one corner. In short, the only thing holding the door together was a single cope-and-stick joint. Knowing he’d probably squirt some glue around and simply clamp it, I offered to fix it properly for him.

I cleaned out the joints of that broken-off stile and that other loose joint. Then, I freed up that sliver of stile stuck to the panel and mated it to its stile. When that was dry I glued, reassembled and clamped up the door. When dry, I touched up the door with a few dabs of stain where it had splintered, and wiped some poly at the repair to touch it up. When done, it looked like new.

The amazement on the face of my non-woodworking neighbor when he saw the door was all the payment I needed, and the whole thing was a win-win all around: He got his door fixed. Having been sidetracked with a lengthy book editing assignment, I got out in the shop for the first time in a week. And I had the pleasure of helping out a friend. It all just doesn’t get any better than that.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the six-pack of excellent IPA that appeared on my doorstep a few days later.

A.J.

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