Sunday, December 13, 2020

Tis the Season to Be Busy


A whole lot of signs

It's the middle of December and once again, the Holidays are upon us. 

During this time of year, for anyone that is at least a wee bit gifted in some sort of craft, whether it be knitting, woodworking, or making weird little electronic gizmos, it never seems to fail - you always seem to be in a bit of a whirlwind of making stuff.  
Sometimes you are making something special for someone as a gift from yourself. In those cases, it is usually something that you had conceived months ago and had been working on it for quite some time and you are just putting on some finishing touches. 

But, if the word is out that you can make stuff, you start finding that people start coming out of the woodwork (no pun intended 😁) usually around late November, wondering if you can make a specific something that they would like to give to someone. 

First, of all, I find it extremely flattering that people would actually think that I am capable of making stuff that they would be happy to give to their loved ones.  It's almost like getting a pat on the back for doing a good job knowing that others enjoy giving what you enjoy making.  But at the same time, your heart does skip a beat when you do the mental calculations on how much time you would need to make it and compare it against what the calendar is saying. 

Sometimes, it's just not possible to build that full bedroom set with Christmas two weeks away, and I always feel a great deal of disappointment when I have to say no to those sorts of requests. Thankfully those situations are very rare, and usually, people ask for pretty simple things. 

I have found that when the word does go out, it's usually about a certain type of thing that you make. 

Since I bought my laser engrave earlier this year, I have been making a good number of small wooden signs made out of wood that I've salvaged from pallets. I had made a few of these signs which I had given away to friends and family, and it seems that other people have noticed them hanging on various walls.

In particular, the signs I had made carried a specific theme - antique tractors and I had given them to people that were interested in that sort of thing. So of course, it was other antique tractor fans that had noticed them on the walls. 

So starting in early November, I started getting calls out of the blue about making signs for very specific tractors.  Needless to say, my laser engraver has been going non-stop ever since. 

Allis Chalmers tractor, hot off the laser

Thankfully I am able to keep ahead of the requests, however, to do that did require a bit of foresight on my part.

While the engraving does take time, it is pretty much an automated process once I have everything set up, and the laser works away while I sleep. 

The biggest effort comes with making the sign stock, which requires cutting, gluing, planing, and sanding strips of pallets. This easily takes a couple of days before a sign is ready for engraving, which can be a real problem if you don't have that much time, to begin with.
To avoid this possibility I had started the practice of always make a duplicate of everything - of course there are exceptions to this, I don't make duplicates of any large of the complex item, instead, I make duplicates for simple things,, like the above-mentioned sign stock, I would make two instead of one since the amount of time for making the second one is negligible since I already have the materials and equipment already set up to make the sign. 

The initial reason why I did this was to make sure I had a spare on hand in case I really messed up on my first piece, something that tends to happen pretty often. 

So, when I made my first few signs I started to gather up a bit of an inventory of blank signboards and parts for a few other projects (which I could assemble pretty quickly if the need arises)

Signboard stock

The nice thing about this practice was that if I got an unexpected spike in requests, for say Christmas presents, I had a ready supply of parts that just needed to be assembled into finished products.

So while I am still scrambling to get things finished, there is no panic this year, just blissful happiness in making things for people. 

To me, that is the biggest gift I can give myself. 

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