Viewing posts for the category creativity
We tend to think of the tension between pristine nature and human ambition as a contemporary struggle, but the urge to own and exploit forests is a fundamental human impulse. At every point in history, wherever humans have possessed sufficient technology or population to deplete natural abundance, we have done so. In much of Central America, Australia, Europe and Africa, territory that has been void of trees for centuries was once cleared by people to make fire and build homes. According to one theory, the Sahara is the result of a giant, ancient clearcut. Today’s forestry dilemmas are simply the latest round in what has been a protracted engagement.
The file pouch in my briefcase has a file folder called “Current.” This is the place where all the things I’m supposed to deal with today (or this week) are intended to go. But over time this file has morphed into the “whenever” file, and has become the place where I put things and forget about them. This is typical of my approach to organization (as I prefer to think of it, my dynamical systems approach to organization).
Among the materials available to the modern mariner, none is more versatile than epoxy. For gluing, repairing, reinforcing, finishing – even for molding mechanical parts – epoxy provides a unique solution. It’s the duct tape of the sea, only far better. Epoxy can enhance the quality and durability of your boat in innumerable ways, can replace and outperform many other traditional materials, and it’s easier to use than you might expect. But before we get to the details of why and how to use epoxy, we need first to know what it is.
Woodworkers and boat builders are, on the whole, a contentious bunch. They argue about all kinds of things: tools, methods, aesthetics, materials. But their favorite topic, the one to which they have turned with unfailing habit for centuries, approaching it with an alchemical reverence that borders on mysticism, is that of wood finishing. Fine finishes – lustrous, highlighting the wood’s grain, inviting the hand to touch – have long been the pinnacle of wood craftsmanship. Some violin makers still preserve, even today, secret varnish formulas that have been passed down through many generations. The long history of secrecy and experimentation in wood finishing has led to its status as the most complex subject in woodworking. This makes sense; there are, after all, hundreds of ways to effectively finish wood. Depending on the intended effect, excellent results can be achieved with milk, crazy glue, the oil from walnuts, and many other surprising products. Faced with the overwhelming diversity of finishing products on the market today, many people working on boats surrender either to the marketing ploys of manufacturers or to the old habit of finishing everything with spar varnish. But wood finishing can be a joy, and if you follow a few simple guidelines, it can be easy as well.