Winter workshop Remedy No. 834: Two hours in the afternoon sun

The Delta jointer sunning outside the birdloft workshops on Friday

The Delta jointer sunning outside the birdloft workshops on Friday

Suddenly it was dark in the workshop. But it was so sunny on Friday I didn’t even notice. I’d just flicked on the jointer, wanting to shave up a block, and the belt-driven motor groaned, burped, emitted a single grey ellipsis of electrical smoke stench and then quit. Didn’t know I shorted out the workshop and part of the house until my wife shouted from the top of the back stair, “The power’s out!”

Well, I panicked that I’d cooked my faithful old machine. I also was already unfaithfully wondering – only briefly – how much I might get in scrap for the heavy old bastard. Chastened though, mostly at the thought of a highly invasive repair, which would mean leaning heavily on the esoteric resuscitatory knowledge of  my friend old George, and therefore would mean several hours of listening to his beautiful, but highly extensive stories while eating frozen apples from his trees, I went into expediency mode. I used my brain to remember deeply, hitting upon another similarly unpleasant smell memory – the time I nearly cooked my screw gun will drilling massive holes for a stair balcony in San Francisco. Same impossibly thin ellipsis, same electrical stench. I had thought my drill was a goner then, but it wasn’t, and is still going. Maybe there was hope for the jointer.

So I walked the old machine from the back of the workshop out into the sun – by spinning it from foot to foot like stevedores used to roll barrels of herring across, the thing is too heavy to lift. It was near 55 degrees. Roofs were steaming. An old sodden cedar beam I had picked up from a dairy barn the other day was also steaming. The sky was blue. Chickadees were hitting the seed, the wren the suet. It’s been chilly the last few days, creeping below freezing, but the sun was out and it was time to heal and to eat, to breathe deep. For the jointer, it was time for a sunbath.

And sure enough, a couple hours later, the jointer fired right up. The job – a few bites of a stick of cedar, to get it just right to prop another block, so birdloft’s tireless, sole proprietor wouldn’t have to lean over quite so far – was over in less than a minute.

Nut of story: even if you can stand the cold in the workshop, some of your machinery might like a little warmth.

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