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Week of Joe–2015 (gifts)

Posted by joeabbott on December 24, 2015

OK, I’m recalling these in no particular order … or, perhaps the order will be the one in which I find the items at hand as I write about the gifts Suzy bestowed on me for Week of Joe (WoJ) this past November. While I like to believe we live a pretty simple life without amassing a ton of stuff, I’m defenseless around my birthday: it seems my every whim from the past 12 months is remembered, catalogued, and recalled for the WoJ.

But enough of the defensiveness … let’s start talking gifts!

Denim shirt

I’ve been a working professional for almost 30 years and still wear jeans and a t-shirt to work on a regular basis. Sure I put in my time wearing slacks and a tie, but my Boeing days are behind me and I find that, regardless what I wear, I’m pretty effective at getting my work done. So, jeans and a t-shirt it is. But, I get chilly on the cooler days so I toss on an over-shirt and leave it unbuttoned as I go about my day.


And, when my day includes everything from the office to the gym to the workshop, I can be rough on my clothes. So a go-to denim shirt is welcome but there are few in my wardrobe that don’t suffer from burned out elbows, a glue splotch on the tail, or just more wear and tear than Suzy can tolerate. And given my lack of any sartorial sense, she knows that I’ll wear what is on the hangers. So, I got myself a new Carhartt denim shirt.

I learned about Carhartt not too long ago when I was looking for tough footwear … they also happened to carry shirts and pants. A local store carries their clothing so Suzy and I wandered in, liked what we saw, and so they’re on the list of clothing that can stand up to the abuse, neglect, and many facets of my day.

Marking knife

In woodworking, a crisp line to measure and cut to are essential for accurate work. and I’ve been looking for the right tool for ages. Pencils blunt and break, pen lines are too thick and the ball/nib chases the grain, but a good razor edge is hard to beat.


I have Exacto knives, cheapy blades and even a pen knife but find reasons to blame all of these for coming up short. Lee Valley recently released a new marking knife (Veritas® Shop Knife) and Suzy picked it up for me. I love the heft and ergonomic feel of the knife and having a blade you can sharpen is a big win. She’d earlier bought me a few of their less expensive Veritas ® Workshop Striking Knives, which are great but a little light and aren’t as assertive in making a mark. This new knife feels like it could strike a line in blue steel and part aluminum without effort.

I haven’t used it yet, but it’ll be the marking knife I reach for on my next project!

imageMiniature Spokeshave

Admittedly a bit of a novelty, Lee Valley has created a line of miniature tools that are made to the same quality specs as their full-sized tools, but just a lot smaller. I have most of the other tools and asked Suzy get me this to fill out the set.


While intended as conversation pieces and not part of your tool bag, they are able to handle real work and I have pulled out one or two of these items in the past to help me with some small bit of detail work. The biggest drawback to using these, is that the wood I’m using these on hasn’t changed dimension, so using a mini tool on big pieces or strongly-grained wood can be a bit problematic.

Still, fun to have the spokeshave and know that, if I need to create my own toothpick, I’ll be able to pull this tool out and go to work!

Parallel Tip Screwdriver Set

For my woodworking I don’t use a lot of screws but, when I do need them, I was still reaching for the Craftsman screwdriver set I bought while I was in college. I’m missing a few drivers and still mumble curses when using a slotted screw because they never seem to drive properly. Well, a big piece of this is the drivers themselves. Parallel tip drivers have just that: tips that are squared and with parallel sides, like those of the screw slot.


You see, the usual standard screw driver tip (like my Craftsman set) is tapered or angled toward the tip, which can create a lot of stress on the topmost part of the screw slot … which then either causes the screw to deform of the driver to want to pop out of the slot.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve come up out of the shop, looked at Suzy and said something like, “Thanks for letting me get the tools I want/need … I just used <insert seldom used tool here> and it saved me a lot of time and frustration.” While I won’t need this tool every day, it will be the right tool at the right time, making them a very welcome addition to my kit.

LEGO Attack on Lake-town

Just like the miniature spokeshave was a bit of a novelty that filled out my set of small tools, this LEGO set now completes my collection of Hobbit and Lord of the Rings LEGO kits! I have one or two second kits that I have actually built, but, for the most part, I have my unopened, pristine boxes of LEGO kits stored away as collectors’ editions.


So, when I’m old and doddering, we can pull them out, I’ll squeal with recollection and a small bit of joy, and we’ll put them together then.

Steel hooks

Don’t look for whimsy or romance on this one: it’s purely a set of plastic-coated steel hooks used to hang stuff in the garage or shed!


These aren’t your Home Depot bargain aisle hooks: you’d have a hard time bending these with a vise and hammer, much less the weight of anything you’d hang on these. I have a set of 10 hooks that will help me organize my shop and still have one or two I can give Suzy for her gardening shed.

imageParallel-jaw Clamps

Whoever said “you can never have too many clamps” was a woodworker.

On a recent job (building the storage shed for chicken supplies) I was running short of clamps. While I “have plenty”, I don’t always have plenty in the right sizes … and parallel-jaw clamps are especially useful. In that category I have something like six clamps in three different sizes … but with this gift, I have four additional clamps! Two at the 23” length and two at the 39” length!

Very useful, very welcome, and even a bit exciting … time to relegate those flimsy old Harbor Freight clamps to the back of the shop and know I’ll have the right tools for my next projects!


I received a number of gifts from other folks during my WoJ: gift cards, Vix bits and ear plugs, and my mother sent me the usual box of goodies from Minnesota (some I’ve eaten and a few others intended for grilling season!). It was a grand week of being spoiled with a lot of gifts that will get me into the shop this coming year.

As always, I’m indebted to Suzy for spoiling me completely. I can only say a heartfelt thank you.


3 Responses to “Week of Joe–2015 (gifts)”

  1. momma said

    Your Mother is SOOO happy you have Suzy out there to spoil you rotten! And I know you’ll be returning the favor, come next June 21st.
    I must say, you do have an amazing collection of new tools – very interesting and even beautiful to look at. And am so glad you actually use them, by and bye…
    Love, Momma

  2. runa musib said

    Where can I buy the steel hooks?

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