Friday, May 25, 2012

Jack Plane, Part 2

Journalism school gives you the notion that people care about your writing. Working as a technical writer takes that notion away, as I soon learned after getting the job at that aerospace company.

I had just moved from Arkansas to Arizona, and in Arkansas I lived a hermit's existence way out in the country. Wood heat, no air conditioning. I had a few hand tools--my favorite was a little jack plane.

Because my brother worked at a big aerospace company in Tucson, I had a good chance of getting hired in the technical editing/writing department with him. I still remember that day, sitting in a small office at a table, writing on the back page of a job application with a pencil, free to describe anything at all, as long as it was technical.

Something about the jack plane interested me. I would sometimes just stare at it, not really knowing why. It was perfectly flat on the bottom except for the protruding steel blade sticking through a slot, so it really didn't sit down flat except when pushed along a piece of lumber, when the blade pulled off a ribbon of wood.

But even then the wood is never really flat. The front of the plane is always riding on wood that is about to be sliced, and the tail end of the plane is lower, dropped into the space where the ribbon used to be. Then when you get to the end of the wood, the front end of the plane flies off into space. It is never level. And yet it creates a level surface.

I understand sandpaper because it is flat. A drill bit is a nice cylinder. But a plane is not normal; it's never what it appears to be.

Fortunately my brother worked at the place.

Fast forward, and I've got my second coat of finish on the office floor and hallways.

Also, the cactus in our side yard is really blooming...

No comments:

Post a Comment