Oregon Wild Fires…

"Adversity introduces a man to himself."— Albert Einstein

Drivel Starved Nation,

For those of you who do not live on the west coast, here is an update from someone who does; your Tool Potentate.

The image below was taken not far from my house on Wednesday at 5PM. There is not a cloud in the sky, what you see is smoke.

Currently (Friday AM), it is worse here. My home is in Zone 1, which means it is time to think about where you would go and what should you take in an evacuation. Zone 2 is pack. Zone 3 is get the hell out. All said, I think we will be OK. I did reach out to my friend Dave Jeske (Blue Spruce Tool Works) and he is much closer to the fires so I worry about him more than us.

Almost 15% of the population of Oregon has been evacuated — that is over half a million people. Stating the obvious lazy metaphor, we are in uncharted, turbulent waters for sure.

For those of you who have been to Oregon, picture this; the smoke plume extends from Washington to California. The entire I-5 corridor is filled with smoke extending all the way to the coast. That is unimaginable to me. The total area burning in the state exceeds the size of New Jersey.

So, what is it really like? This morning I took a shower and my fresh towel smelled liked smoke — and I cannot complain.

Stay safe everybody and be grateful that you have the time to read this Totally Awesome and Worthless Blog.

-Still Here.

My Epic Covid Road Trip….

Drivel Starved Nation!

First, my sincerest apologies to all of you who have emailed me, or posted comments on this board and have yet to receive a response. I will answer all this week.


My son, and his family (including my only female grand daughter), reside outside of Dallas. Being a grandpa and not seeing your grand kids is a brutal form of punishment (particularly when they are two years old). So, on July 4th I left Portland and drove to Dallas to see everybody. It was just a short 2,000 mile, 4 day trip.

I also helped my son build a 550 sq. ft deck on the back of his house. Because of the heat, humidity and the most difficult clay soil you can imagine, I stayed in Dallas for 19 days. And during this time, I disconnected from social media which is a wonderful thing. Really.

While in Dallas I received a phone call from DSN member Neil Clemmons. I shared that I was headed next to Knoxville, TN to visit an old college friend. He convinced me to come visit his new house in Bentonville, AR which was along the way (almost) … Truthfully, the lure of free food and lodging is an irresistible attraction. We had a great time and his shop is awesome… as in magazine worthy. Remember magazines?

After spending the night in Knoxville, I drove up to Long Island, NY to shoot bird pics on Nickerson Beach. More on this later.

I then hopped on I90 and came home. On both the trip to Dallas and the trip home from NY, I stopped at every national wildlife refuge along the way (if not too far off course) to take bird pics.

8189 miles, 36 days, 24 states, and over 8000 bird pics later, I arrived in Portland to re-introduce myself to my dogs. This past week I have been doing nothing but fixing stuff that always seems to break when I am not around…

I spent over 100 hours driving by myself, and having never done anything remotely similar in the past, I can share it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I will blog about how I did this safely during this pandemic in a follow-up post.

Lastly, this coming week I will be involved with the approval of the Pencil Precision first article components and if there are no surprises, we are looking at delivery in Q4 of this year. So, fingers crossed!

So there you have it. I checked out for the first time in my life but now I am back!

That’s my story and I am sticking to it.


PS: Back in the old days, Don Schroder of Popular Woodworking used to swindle me sell me ad space in the magazine. As we became more antiquated, I learned he is an incredible wildlife photographer. So, for the past two years, I have been doing a brain suck on him in hopes of taking pictures that would be worthy of my grand kids admiration. He met me at Nickerson Beach on Long Island before that storm wiped out the rookery we visited. Here are a couple of pics from a great couple of days of doing nothing but photography…

Bridge City Updates, John not Dead Yet….

“I finally figured out that not every crisis can be managed. As much as we want to keep ourselves safe, we can't protect ourselves from everything. If we want to embrace life, we also have to embrace chaos.”— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Drivel Starved Nation,

First, I really do hope all of you are well and that everybody in your orbit is well. I don’t think anybody is better prepared for a pandemic shutdown than those of us with a shop. So far, all is well here and I hope to keep it that way.

Before I fill the space between your ears with some Drivel, I do want to get serious for a moment.

There was a comment posted on this blog from a customer with a JMP that needs warranty work. This person claimed that he has received no response from customer service. I understand this pandemic has really created a mess of things, so I want to state unequivocally that this is not something I will tolerate. Pandemic excuses only work for a short while before they become a crutch for incompetence. If anybody has any issues at all, and you are head-butting the wall of unbearable frustration, here is what you do; complain to me.


I will make sure that the chicken salad you ordered is in fact, what you will receive, not the odoriferous alternative.

Whew. I feel better now. Continue reading

If You are a Cheap-Ass Woodworker, This Post is for You!

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”— Roy T. Bennett

Drivel Starved Nation:

The following stories may, or may not, be true.

Back in the ’80’s a customer at a trade show went way out of his way to inform me that spending money on good tools is money wasted.  He then went on to explain how he makes his own tools out of salvaged railroad rails.  This is when I first realized that woodworkers are the cheapest people on the planet. Cheap-asses in the first degree!

How did I deduct this?  Because I am one too.  Back in the mid ’90’s I was aghast at the cost of vasectomies so I did my own.

Man, did that hurt. 

If you are thinking about following my example, email me; john@DontEverDoThis.com for what I would do different… Continue reading

Sadly, Our 2020 China Field Trip Has Been Canceled…

"Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same thing."— Unknown

Drivel Starved Nation;

I am just not very good at delivering bad news, but due to the virus outbreak in China, we have canceled our June excursion.

If you have purchased airfare, I am almost certain you will be able to get a full-refund.

I will do my best to make this happen in 2021, but since I am not getting any younger, I just don’t know how realistic this is. But I will try.

One of my standard core beliefs is that “decisions are easy when values are clear.”  This was an easy decision considering all that we do not know.

Please accept my apology and lets hope this thing reaches a speedy conclusion.


2020 Epic China Field Trip Date is Set!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain

Drivel Starved Nation,

Before I share the itinerary of the 2020 China Field Trip, here are some updates;

Pencil Precision:  This project is now in the pre-production phase. What this means is that vendors are being finalized, and prototypes are being built. My work is done.  I can’t give you firm dates yet, and will not be able to until after the Chinese New Year.  BTW, 2020 is the Year of the Rat.

New Projects:  This week I am finishing up a new hand saw design.  It is joint cutting back saw that has a maximum depth of cut of 78mm.  More on the why of this later.

My Work Retreat:  The first two weeks of February I will be redesigning the HP-6v2  body because I no longer like the old design.  This is a big deal because the new design will be in metric. Rest assured, ALL existing HP-6 profiles will be backwards compatible.  I also have an idea for new product that the industry has never seen, so we will see if the muse takes me there….

Rejected Idea:  You will be pleased to note that I rejected my idea to put a dust collector attachment on our scratch awls….

SAVE THE DATES! Continue reading

It is Good to be Home — and a WWII Story or 2…

"Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world."— Gustav Flaubert

Drivel Starved Nation!

I just returned from spending three weeks in Europe participating in a publicity tour for Bridge City Tool Works and all the new distributors.

Here are all the stops; London, Axminster, Exeter, Paris, Arnhem, Amsterdam, Munich, Stuttgart, Wurzburg (I think), Frankfurt, Barcelona, and finally Lisbon, Portugal. Needless to say, I am beat. Spain and Portugal were sightseeing stops before heading back to Portland… Continue reading

Pencil Precision, My Obsession with the Ubiquitous…

“Look at usual things with unusual eyes.”— Vico Magistretti

Drive Starved Nation!

First, there is something going on with this blog that is keeping ME out of the loop.  So don’t be discouraged if your comments show up late, I am working on getting that fixed.

Second, thanks to all who commented on my Africa pics, I will let some more leak out later.

Tomorrow I leave for Europe for three weeks.  This is a publicity tour for all of the new Bridge City distributors and I will be discussing our planes and other tools in the pipeline I still cannot talk about. Yet.  Looks like we start in London and visit six countries on this trip. I will be traveling with Jack Xu and Mark Strahler and one thing I will confirm is the exact date for our second epic China field trip in 2020. Continue reading

Pencil Precision Update and other News from Your Favorite Tool Potentate…

“Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.” — Albert Szent Gyorgi

Drivel Starved Nation,

I have not posted in months, not because I don’t have anything to say, or hide, I have been crazy busy.

But first, I owe an apology to about a half dozen DSN members who submitted questions and/or comments on this Totally Awesome and Worthless Blog that went unanswered by me. They got caught up in a Spam filter on this blog site. I answered them all today. Oops.

Pencil Precision Update…
It is no secret that this project has taken on mythic proportions regarding lateness. No excuses here, it has been on the back burner due to the transition and one other significant issue… me. I got flummoxed on locating a reliable source for STRAIGHT GRAIN stock for the pencils. That has been solved. And beginning today, Monday Sept. 23, all of my attention this week is cementing the other vendors which is surprisingly complex. Parts for this project are made in the USA, China, Japan, and Germany. The “me” part of this story is that I used to have a staff that researched and pursued all of these disparate components which now is solely my responsibility. Regardless, refunds are always an easy thing to do if you feel so inclined (I hope you don’t but completely understand!). As soon as all of the PO’s are cut, I will update everybody via this platform. Continue reading