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On The Make

This is about making things. Not about aggressive social intercourse, There is a certain mental, not biological attraction for the things I build with my hands. It’s a thinking and doing in creating tangible items, not about assertive interpersonal relations. Sigmund Freud probably thought a lot about that… not about making tangible things. Ha!

I like being on the make. I have always made things. All my life I have spent considerable time assembling and making things.

I started with kits. The design and all the parts are provided. A set of instructions are provided. Assembly begins.

The first assembly kit I remember was a printed-on-metal model of a car garage/gas station. My brother and I both got one for Christmas. The metal walls had tabs that were inserted into slots and then bent over to secure them in place. The instructions said, “Insert tab “A” into slot “A” and bend over”

There were dozens of these “bend the tab” connections to be made. That assembly phrase has stuck with me my entire life. For me it is the epitome of simple kit assembly. My brother and I often referred to simplified, no tools required assembly, as simply, “Insert tab A into slot A.” We both needed to say no more to know what this means. First impressions last a lifetime. It meant a “no brainer”, even a kid can follow this process.

The toy garages had a flat metal roof for toy car parking and a metal ramp the cars could be pushed down to arrive at ground level. The real fun was the assembly of the toy. The same but not the same as the plastic “safe play” versions made today. Sharp metal edges are always more fun…

I have since built a lot of kits. It’s convenient to have all the parts and all the material at one time. Glue together plastic models were always a big time favorite. The decision was if to paint them before or after assembly.

There was a lot of knowledge gained in identifying the parts by name and number. I think it may be a learning experience lost on the current generation of young, no-kit, non-assemblers.

Pre and early teen years, I moved on to balsa wood model airplane kits. I like gas powered free flight and brother Jim preferred U-control (so they wouldn’t fly away). Then I discovered through the hobby magazines about building from plans and gathering my own needed materials. Eventually I built radio controlled model airplanes.

My electronics interest started with a kit when I was probably 10 or less years old. It was another Christmas present, a breadboard electronics experimenter kit. A real bread board with screw down (Fahnestock clips) terminals. This would lead to me later in life building just about everything Heathkit offered in electronics kits, including all my amateur radio equipment. Then came computers, which I still build from parts today,

Along the way of all this kit building, I also discovered a real joy in scratch building without kits. The kits provided a real background and education on proper building and assembly. Very complete instructions and some times not so complete instruction was a great learning process.

But I got to where I could build from just a drawing, a set of plans (no supplied material) or an electronic schematic. I had a wonderful time growing up making all kinds of wonderful functional things.

My grandfathers both made things. One was a wood worker with a complete wood work shop and the other is a skilled painter artist and also a builder of things from wood. My dad built racing stock cars and so we always had access every type of mechanical hand tool imaginable. At least for the time… My development years were highly charged with making real things, with and without adult supervision. I and my brother were very much a self starters.

Working in the HVAC industry, I always had access ot all kinds of sheet metal tools and worked along side many skilled sheet metal workers. As a journeyman pipe-fitter, I became a skilled weldor (sic) among many other skills. I also developed a high ability in designing and building electrical control systems and custom panels.

As a young adult I moved into building and flying full sized experimental aircraft. I was an active aircraft parts maker for about 20 years until work related travel had me moving around the country and far away from a stable workshop environment.

As I began to look at retirement coming at me from over the horizon, I decided I needed to build a real (but moderate) machine workshop, so I could continue to make things until the end of my time. I have done that and I can now make almost anything from wood or metal. Also plastic, with 3D printing newly added.

Large full size aircraft construction remains a fond but now remote memory.

I am saving the very best experience for last. The ultimate in making, is to start with just an idea. No plans, no materials. Just something tangible that has come to mind as needing to be made.

For me it is a form of invention. See a need, figure out a solution to fill the need, then start from scratch with design, perhaps some prototyping, and finish with a tangible working product.

The process is the enjoyment. The result will have it’s own reward, but the fun is getting there. It’s the journey of making things that is enjoyable. Reaching the destination means it’s just time to start another journey.

The same as real life. Religion teaches it is the end that is important. Heaven or Hell or… maybe rebirth. I believe it is the journey that is the most important. I want to “make” the most from it.

So yes, I am on the make. The opposite gender has nothing to fear. In fact, most of what I make is for them, in my silver and other heirloom type work. For me it is still the best of times, making things. Doing what I love for those who love what I do.


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