Friday, September 16, 2016

Woodworking in the Woods

My birthday was this week, an event I am not as pleased about as I once was, so my wife gave me the choice of how to celebrate it.  It wasn't hard for me to select my favorite home away from home:

Nice enough, you may think, but here is the view from a short walk away:

The campground at Trillium Lake is at 3,600 feet, so it was a bit brisk at night (around 40 degrees F) but daytime temperatures in the high 60s felt even warmer with the bright sunshine.  There were four things I wanted to do:  fishing, biking, hiking and ... woodworking.

Woodworking?  Yup, something I have always wanted to try.  This is the setup I took with me:

It consisted of a bench raiser, a Moxon vise and a canvas tote bag of tools in rolls or wrapped.  Here is a rear view:

and, what it looked like in use:

How did it work?  Really great.  The picnic table is made of vertical grain douglas-fir 3x12s with 6x6 legs so it was solid as a rock.   The height of the Moxon vise was just right for sawing joints and the bench raiser was just right for chopping.  It worked great and I enjoyed myself immensely.

The biggest problem I had was the bright sun, which shone from the side and made it very hard to see some of the lines I was trying to saw to.  No way to move that picnic table, which probably weighs 500 lbs., so I had to adjust my work schedule instead.

The campsites are in deep woods separated by at least 100 feet from each other, so my sawing and chopping didn't bother anyone.  This is the compensation for accepting no electricity, no showers and pit toilets.  Well worth it.

This is something I will be doing regularly from now on.  You can see what a small space my equipment occupied and, while it obviously has limitations, there is a lot you can do with it.  Almost anybody, regardless of their living situation, can enjoy hand tool woodworking.  That is one of the great things about it.

When you hike above the timber line and look down at thousands of square miles of forest, the reality of wood being a renewable resource is compelling.  It was really nice to practice woodworking in this setting.


  1. Andy,

    We are just back from 3 weeks in Southern Oregon. I had plans for campsite woodworking this year (a little more complex than yours) but because of unforeseen events and my traveling tool box turning out to be too large to travel it didn't happen. Next year it will :-).

    You did open my eyes to the Moxon, for some reason I hadn't thought of using it for my main vise, head slap. I have almost a year to build a smaller tool box and small bench, the Moxon is already finished.

    Congrats to you and Jo on a wonderful Bday.


  2. What a cool way to spend the b-day. I've never been a fisherman, but the hiking , biking and wwing out in nature all sound fantastic. HB!