A while back I remember saying that maybe I should tell a typical day. So this morning, because recently I’ve been wondering where all the time goes I thought I’d write up a day in the life of a box maker.
At about quarter past seven I’m into the office with a pot of tea set the computer running and get the workshop fire lit, though for mid December it’s pretty mild still. See to the nights emails – i.e. Dump most of them in the computer bin. I check the junk folder just in case something legitimate shows up in there and dump all the ads from dubious sounding chemists and girls in Russia during the course of which the pot of tea is finished.
Suddenly three quarters of an hour have passed – still, the desk, both physical and electronic, is clear which always gives me a great feeling.
Into the workshop. By now it’s just about light outside.
Drill some holes in two strap hinges and then get the bench clear of tools before I start up the arbortech which I’ve been using a lot recently. The shavings from an arbortech can rapidly bury tools. I’ve just bought the ‘professional’ version of the arbortech. I’m not sure that it’s that much better than the original but my old blade has been sharpened rather a lot so maybe it was time to retire it.
I do like sycamore. It seems to cut so satisfyingly. Although maybe that’s just in contrast to the burr oak and burr elm I’ve been working with recently.
Written on the side of this box I came across moisture reading dated 2004! It was 12% then and it still is now so I guess it’s fine to use.
It’s now quarter past nine and I’ve just wasted twenty minutes looking at an email and website for commission a craftsman.com. I was wondering whether it would be worth joining such an organisation. Certainly at the moment – probably not because I’m getting as much work as I can handle from my web site but there’s always the fear of it drying up. Actually the time looking at the site wasn’t wasted at all because I really enjoyed leafing through a couple of dozen pics of Fred Bayer’s work. Fantastic sculptural furniture with a sense of humour!
Back to the bench. Classic FM is on the radio and every time they play a carol I wonder how on earth I’m going to get five boxes finished. They’re all well under way but two of them have a lot of trays and I haven’t even started those yet.
A final check on the rotating of the two hinges then glue in the pivots.
Now’s a good time for breakfast – to give that glue time to go off.
Breakfast is at my desk – quick check for emails. The worst emails are those which for one reason or another I’m not sure about. They tend to stay in the inbox while I think about them and somehow they create a dam behind which others gather and very quickly I’ve got a screen full of unanswered mail all because of one that I couldn’t make a quick decision on.
Looking at the shelves of boxes here in the office it’s occurred to me that there’s a box that I’ve just got back from a gallery that I haven’t put up onto my site yet – so it’s a quick trip into cyber space to put some text in there to say that it’s here and available.
Then the phone goes and it’s Andy Crawford wanting to talk cutters and machines and routers and things. It’s good to talk to someone else who’s in the same situation – boxes to finish before the 25th that is.
It’s 1100 – back to the bench. Working down the grits of sandpaper on the box lid and hinges of the sycamore chest. All pieces are separate at the moment – I’ll assemble everything once it’s been oiled and waxed. 1230 now and I'm back in the office – phone again – my son this time to wish me a happy birthday for yesterday……… while I’m in the office the postman has been so I’ll see if he’s bought anything exciting. A swatch of fabric from Soho Silks including a nice powder blue that would be a bit of a new one for me.( I normally go for dark and rich colours); a letter containing a bounced-back email. – I thought I’d fixed that problem! Why do some emails bounce back and using the same address others get through? - someone who had been given one of my boxes a year or so ago and now wants one for each of his grand daughters to keep their jewellery as they grow up. And a bill from Barclays merchant services – one o the expenses of being able to accept credit cards is that I have to pay nearly 3%to Barclaycard! I object to that – big time! I feel they (the banks) win every which way. Which is why I ask for a debit card now – at least then it’s fixed charge of 40p per transaction. Although they recently wrote to me telling me that I didn’t seem to be paying them much each month so they are going to charge me a minimum amount – whether I used them or not. I think that’s pernicious. How would it be if the grocery store decided to charge me whether or not I bought anything! – rant over. (I’m glad I got it off my chest though). It’s 1245 and I must get back to work.
I’ve just taken some pics of what I’m up to in the workshop and when this gets onto my site I’ll put one of those up too– you’re getting the full works here.
1430 now and I’ve had lunch – back at my desk; skimmed a couple of emails, taken a phone call, replied to the email that came by post – I think the machines like to remind us who’s in charge from time to time - and filed away the receipt from Barclaycard - they don’t need actually paying; they just help themselves from my account………
Must get back into the workshop. I was going to say back to work. I don’t think of time spent at the desk as work but I suppose it is.
Suddenly it’s 1730! Where did the afternoon go? Well I did completely sand a large box then at about 1530 I thought I’d nip down to the shop – we’ve got a brilliant co-op/post office in the village here – 2 minutes away and it sells everything! We’d run out of tea and it was a Friday so the local weekly paper was to fetch. It was just getting dark and I started to think about our central heating system which had more or less stopped working. I was sure there was an air lock in the system somewhere. So I needed a hose pipe – which was in the garden and it was better to do it in the daylight. So I bled radiators and let out water all to no avail – then sprung a leak which meant more tightening of nuts and bleeding of systems and then it coughed. And gurgled and spluttered. It sounded like an enormous belch. I’d cleared it! And it started working! Good news indeed. I was sure I’d end up having to call a plumber. Then Thomas rang about setting up a paypal account for me – I’m going to sell the ring boxes directly off the site. And now it’s 1730. But Chris, my wife, is going out tonight straight from work (a Christmas do) so I shall carry on. I’ve got another large pivot hinged box to sand.
1830 and the large box is sanded – on to a desk box that’s been ordered for Christmas but there’s a good programme on radio 4 so I’ll tidy up the workshop while I’m listening to that – no noise of machines. Then it’s 1900 and down to the other end of the house to cook some supper.
2000 – Back to my desk and I think I’ll do some paper work. Somebody rang this evening wanting a box for his wife so I’ll put the card details through and do the other various paperwork associated with that.
Well, that was where it stopped. I scribbled all of that down on sheets of paper on December 7th and nearly a month later I’ve put it onto the computer. Not perhaps a totally typical day but certainly a day… maybe I’ll do another next month.