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~Timeless Advice~
A Pep Talk from Mr.Sawdust

Throughout the years Mr.Sawdust conducted his School of Professional Woodworking in Chester, NJ, (during the 70's and 80's) former students may recall he also published a bi-monthly Newsletter titled BENCHTALK. He always liked to include a little — "heart throb—something for you to think about."

In reading through some of his writing, I thought that this advice, written during a former time of financial uncertainty in our country— could have been written today.~ M.Walsh

We will allow no one to come into our school and start a discussion of “how bad things are”—and how they will have to get a lot worse before they get better.”  We don’t wear blinders.  We’re realists.  But this kind of negative talk is wasteful of both energy and time.

 THERE IS AN INNATE VIBRANCE IN THIS COUNTRY that will prevail through all our times of weak leadership, economic confusion, gutless politicians.  Recession or depression, there is a pioneer strength in this country that is very much alive.  Whatever comes is momentary -- even though the “moment” is a year or two -- and those, especially those who can work in a craftsman-like manner with their hands, will not only endure -- but will be the first to surface in the good times -- like a crocus in the spring.

 NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO FOR A LIVING TODAY, LOOK AT YOUR HANDS. (Look at them!)

 They are your answer to almost every mental and medical problem you’ll ever have.  Your fingertips are like electrical outlets -- draining off the mental exasperations you encounter during the day.  The product of well-trained hands builds personal satisfaction, a pride, and provides an immediate therapeutic value.  Better yet, a fine piece of workmanship exists as a personal tribute to your craftsmanship -- longer than you’ll live.

 For the 30 year old, look to your hands for a healthy and sane future.  For the 40-year- old, TOOL UP -- invest in good tools.  Secure adequate shop space.  Set aside shop time out of each day to master your equipment.  Remember this: your tools may someday be your most valuable physical asset.  For the 50-year-olds, understand that most great success-stories have happened to people over 50 – so GET GOING!  And for all of us old duffers, let’s get down to cases:  This thing called “Retirement” was created by insurance companies and big corporations.  It was a well-designed plan to get rid of us during a boom of War babies.  WE HAVE THE REALLY GREAT VALUE ... and Retirement, as they figured it, is Death.

 But we don’t see it that way.  RETIRE? YES.  But retire to some kind of proud productivity.  The young people need us.  There are too few of us left to re-establish standards of quality and performance.  Craftsmanship must become a re-plenishable resource – and it’s our obligation to fill the cup and to keep it full!

 AS LONG AS YOU CAN STAND AT A WORKBENCH (or even sit!) you’re young enough to command respect, turn out exemplary work, stay happy, and “make a buck” if you KNOW what you’re doing. —W.M.Kunkel