The first inch

Mallet head and handle

Put these together to make a mallet

In ‘A Walk in the Woods’, Bill Bryson describes his adventures walking the Appalachian Trail. After slogging along the trail for a week or so, he sees a map of the entire route hung on the wall of an outdoors supplier’s shop. The map is several feet long. He looks closer to see how far he has walked and gets a shock when he realises that he has walked about an inch of it. He can see for the first time how far he really has to go.

I haven’t had to wade through waist deep snow or sleep in an open shelter in freezing conditions during my first week at IBTC, but I know how he felt. I now have my first inkling of what it will take to turn me into a boat builder.

Where do I start? My tools need to become like extensions of my body, my use of them confident. I need to understand the construction materials, how the grain lays, how to work with different kinds of wood. Accurate marking up and precise cutting with well honed tools. I need this all to become instinctive so that I can produce high quality work quickly. Then I can start learning to build boats. It’s quite a trek.

I won’t give away how Bill got on with the rest of the Appalachian Trail, but suffice to say that I hope I won’t be drawing on ‘A Walk in the Woods’ for many future posts.

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