It all started as a joke. My friend, Robert Porter, who owns Old Handtool Shop (
posted on his facebook page a contest notice, "Most creative action shot with a plane" or something like that in some attempt to generate some photos for his page and I assume some traffic as well. He had a panel of judges who would be doing the evaluations and naming the winner in a week and to whom would go a magnificent prize.
Now, I am very creative and I can take pictures as good as anyone with an iphone. I'm sure that the idea was to get some great "action" shots, which I'm also good at as I keep telling myself in order to build confidence. But why stick to the ordinary photos of planes making wood shavings. Planes have been around hundreds, nay, thousands of years and are used in almost every arcane industry that ever made something. From wood (obviously) to tin, to copper and brass organ pipes, type blocks, everything that we don't use much anymore, there was a plane to plane stuff.
I discovered that it's easy to be creative when you don't have a clue as to what you are doing so I started working my brain. While I was eating my lunch, which happened to be cheese and crackers, the lightbulb went off and I came up with the idea of the cheese plane as my subject. Hell, it was already out as was the cheese, I just needed to take a photo or two in some creative pose. Block of cheese, soda cracker, cheese plane. Viola a perfectly framed, artfully designed piece of cheese, cracker and cheese plane.
I guessed my chances were about 50-50 since I was being cute and the other entrants were just being "toolies" with mundane shots of planes and curly shavings. Besides, I knew most of the judges and I thought I had an "in" with them anyway. I gleefully envisioned a new Standard Rule No 3 or Chaplins Patent smoother arriving in a mere few days after I kicked butt in this class of boring pictures.
So the week passed but I heard not a word from Robert. I figured that I must have been disqualified for being too creative and the other entrants were jealous or whatever so I pretty much forgot about the whole thing. Another week goes by and I get notified that the judges have indeed awarded me a prize, the "Boobie Prize"as we called it back in the days when we didn't have to worry about toxic masculinity. Robert didn't tell me what
it was but about four days later a box arrived USPS Priority. I figured it must have been something pretty cool to be sent with such priority. Imagine my utter surprise when after opening the box, removing the internal wrappings and finding a magnificent XACTO (or Exacto) hobby plane. I did not have one in my collection.
I've been known to be able to tune up planes pretty well and I think Robert was baiting me with this one. Off we went to the shop where I spent literally minutes trying to get the blade sharp enough to cut something besides my fingers. What I discovered was that the XACTO (Exacto) hobby plane is pretty
much worthless on wood, though I did manage to create a few shavings but unfortunately, the blade kept popping out after just a few strokes. Now, I
can see this thing having some value when you are planing plastic or even balsa. Not so good on fir or cedar to say nothing of oak or maple.
Then, it dawned on me. This whole thing started with a block of cheese. Dare I risk a good piece of cheddar or swiss? I could not resist the temptation so from the shop to the kitchen I went. It was once again lunchtime and I was hungry anyway. I pulled out the block of swiss and started to plane away. One slice, two
slices, three, It was an amazing experience as this tiny little POS hobbyist plane was slicing cheese like it was a Number 8 on a piece of pine. Wafer thin, full width, perfect cracker size.
So, laugh if you like but I believe that I may have discovered the new kitchen gadget for the Snowflake Generation. Something that requires little effort, great reward and a safe space to eat lunch. But wear gloves. That almost sharp 1 inch cutter can leave a nasty scratch on your pinky finger.