The Wide Angle: Never underestimate a good stick

Published 11:45 am Saturday, July 22, 2017

By now you have to know that I’m a raging nerd. I’ve left plenty of hints. For the love of all that is holy I have a Transformer, X-Wing and TIE fighter on my desk.

What else do I have to say?

So none of what I’m about to relate should surprise you in the least.

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I found … a stick.

Now, there’s more to this than simply finding a stick, but it must be known that it was a good, solid stick. Complete with one end with a nifty fork and the other end a nob.

Okay, so now that I’ve related how cool a stick it is, I should probably explain what I have in mind for said wonder-stick. I plan on making an axe.

That’s a great stick.

Let’s all control the eye-rolling, groans and chuckles (if not guffaws) of doubt. I’m well aware of my wood-working capabilities but let me explain if I might.

First off, I plan on using this as a key component in my new Renaissance Festival outfit. Myself and my girlfriend dress up for Ren Fest and I’m not the least ashamed for it. It’s a blast and I don’t think I would go out of character anymore, at least not the first time.

But I’ve explained this all before. No doubt you are wildly curious about my wood-working, axe-making skills. And I don’t blame you. This is along the order of magnificence of an ancient and magical artifact being forged in the fires of Mount Something or Other.

Except it’s more likely to be forged on the front step of my front door. Not as epic, but I hope just as grand.

So the history, the mythical threads of my axe from the gods. I found a stick along the side the road. Yep, that’s how it started, but like Frodo, all great adventures start simply.

The other night I was out riding my bike on a circular route that took my out past the bowling ally and onto Highway 218 on the way back into town. Along the shoulder of the road was my fabled stick and at first I passed it by, but as I did I realized — you don’t just pass Destiny by without waving hello. You stop and ask it how Fate is doing these days.

Circling back I looked closer at the stick and began getting an idea. How hard can making your own axe be? It’s a logical question, especially for me who asks how hard can it be to get around the University of Minnesota. And for me, well just never you mind. So the question still stands. Clean off the bark, sand it down, buy an axe head and assemble it by following the instructions of a video from that grand informational hub known as YouTube.

In theory, it shouldn’t be that difficult and I’m starting with a good stick — which I think I’ve mentioned.

As I’ve also mentioned, the stick has an outward knob at the bottom that fits my hand perfectly and it’s got good weight. It even appears aesthetically appealing, so already I have a good start just by Mother Nature’s graceful hand. I’m already taking a good step forward.

Riding home, just a boy and his stick, I quickly put the bike away and got out another hatchet that cuts cleanly and easily through frozen butter and began peeling back the dead bark. Did I need to use another hatchet to do this? Probably not, but if the vikings did it then I should probably do it that way to.

I realize I looked the perfect fool, whittling away at my magic stick on the front step, but the idea was anchored in my and I’m feeling fresh coming off vacation.

Once the bark is peeled away, I began sanding it down, getting a smoother surface and preparing it for the head when I get that ordered. It’s at this point where my wood-working skills may come into play.

It should be known that I stumbled — at best — through wood shop in high school. I made a checkerboard that would only really be of any service if both players were drunk. The rows are uneven and set at different depths relative to most everything.

So I’m not entirely sure how this next step will go, but I’ve chosen to do the wedge-technique. Not sure if that’s the real name for it, but that’s how we will know it as.

Basically, you fit the head to the heft of the axe, which is tapered and split at the top. Once the head is fit, you take a small wedge the size of the split and drive it into the split, forcing the two halves out and holding the head in place.

After that, you take another metal wedge and drive it in crossways to hold it all in place.

See, in theory.

I have no doubts that this will be an adventure and in the end I shall have a blade the envy of all naive, jester or lass that casts their eyes upon it’s icy glean. And you will know this because I’ve used the word “naive.” That’s pretty medieval and rennessaincy don’t you think?

So cast about and retrieve us two cups and fill them with your sweetest brew and let us toast the gods where they sit at the long table of fellowship in the halls of Valhalla. I shall make the rest of Midgard, those lands of man, proud of my prowess with the blade I shall bring forth into these dark lands.

Oh man, I really am nerdier than I thought.

Happy Trails

I would be remiss if I did not say a few words about the departure of our editor from these past few years, Jason Schoonover, or as he’s been know from time to time in the office [mostly by me] Schoon the Swoon.

He’s been one of the best editors I’ve worked with over the years and brought a sense of maturity to a newsroom that sometimes struggles with it — in a fun way.

During those years we have become one of the strongest incarnations of the newsroom that continues and will continue for a while.

It’s been a fun few years working with Jason even if he’s had to deal with at times a cantankorous photographer with ideas of his own.

I would say it makes me charming, but I’m sure there are other words.

That being said, best of luck to Jason in this next steps down the road. May they be devoid of potholes and horse-drawn wagon trains.