One of dad's favorite places to spend time was in the garage. He loved woodwork. He had a large and low workbench made to accommodate his wheelchair. He bought his first wheelchair in the late 1960 or early 1970's. He made it his shop chair when he finally bought a new one. Before he had the wheel chair, he'd use small wooden stools to work around the house or outside. He made a ramp from the kitchen to the garage to get over the one step down into the garage.
Maybe it was growing up in the depression, but dad didn't throw away stuff. He'd save every scrap piece of leather or wood he came across. When the old television console broke down, dad asked me to go out there and break it down for the wood and and usable hardware. The same went for any old washer and dryer. I clearly remember sitting on the garage floor one Saturday dismantling an old dish washer. You'd be surprised how many washers and screws hold those things together. Most of it went to good use. We didn't have to go to the hardware store much in those days because if you looked hard enough, you could find the size nut..the right size piece of metal to improvise and complete a job. It was a mess to organize though.
Dad had a lot of large power tools in his shop too. He built a stand with locking wheels for his table saw. He built a stand with locking wheels for his jig saw. He built a stand with locking wheels for his lathe. Every large power tool he owned could be rolled around in that shop of his. It was always my job to clean up the shop. I didn't have to clean it often, but when I did, it took the most part of a weekend to do the job right. I have always have been a pretty good organizer, but the more dad collected, the more difficult it was to keep that garage neat.
I organized that shop so many times, I can close my eyes and go through every drawer, every cabinet, every container and still see what was kept in each of them. I look up on the shelves and see the Minwax cans...sitting next to the linseed oil. He had more hammers hanging on that pegboard than he could ever use. Most of the peg holes in those boards were mostly filled with tools for any occasion. I don't believe there was a tool he didn't have.
I didn't share dad's interest or talent with wood. I was often drafted into the garage to help him. He always wanted to do as much as he could by himself, so I was there to reach for items out of his reach or steady a piece of wood for him to make a cut. Every now and then he needed a steady hand to hold a nail for him to hammer. I learned the hard way not to use my hands. After a couple of times of getting hammered by a miss, he would then act insulted when I started holding the nail using needle nose pliers.
Even if there wasn't anything to mend or build, he'd go out there and come up with a project or two using scraps of this and that. He was good at that. For a man who didn't have two good hands, he sure enjoyed using them.
The last project I remember us working on was a glue table. He had seen an expensive picture of one in a woodworking magazine and decided to build one to his wheelchair height. We spent a day out in the garage. I didn't know what I was doing, but he was mighty good at instructing his shop helpers on what to do. The glue table turned out really nice. I don't think he ever got a chance to use it. It's now out in my garage. I never used it for what it was made for either. It collects stuff out there. I still have his workbench. I still have many of dad's old tools. It's nice to have them out there, use them when something needs fix'n.
I never cared much for spending all those hours out there as a boy, but I sure wouldn't mind lending him a hand if he were still around. Every now and again while working out there, I feel a connection, enjoying a little of what he enjoyed doing so much.
Happy Father's Day Dad.