The Zen Of Saw Dust.


She is alive with saw dust! AHHHHHHHHH! YES.

Yesterday was one of those days where you know the universe has placed you in the right place, the right time and with the right people at one time. There was absolutely no need to look forward, backward, or even in a dream, because I was in that timeless spot. To many I know this is some sort of odd thing I am doing. But to know that this Railways history and life is being used to preserve her is mind blowing.

What the hell? He finds the one area of saw dust within seconds and starts playing. The Boatress is NOT going to be happy. But I am!

Since we have decided to panel the walls, why not make our own paneling? Why bring in more wood, and visit a big box store? When 99% of what we need is right here at the Railway. Including the most valuable resource. knowledge. As in George Butler himself. A kind, and graceful teacher. Ugh, I wish I had a fraction of his patience and positive outlook. The other day I went through the stacks of lumber and found some pine on the edge of life. Grey on the outside, and useless in boat building, but would make a great wall panel, but was a tad think, 1 inch, and well, maybe not quite enough.

It all looks easy when he does it! ….it’s not!

So George said, lets split it on the Saw! OH HELL YA!  He set up a jig thing, and here is the process. WOW. Enjoy the process, hopefully as much as I did.

This tool is cool as hell

And yes he guided the boards through this all by eye!

Yes I am a lame ass with a camera – I feel so milenial

The perfection of imperfection

Gad, the design of this machine is perfect

and done

Opened up! Like cutting a Quartz rock

Next! Some of the boards needed to be planed, plained? On Stumpy! OH GAD!


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Photo perfection! He worked that thing like a Master!

Note the belt on the lower left

The split paneling being put on the wall today

Book matching the doorway!

I went back into the workshop, and thought. Dang! I thought I had cleaned up decades of sawdust weeks ago. Little did my ignorant mind know, It wasn’t decades, it was minutes! And so my learning curve begins to bend!

Well that explains the snow shovels around the place!

20 replies
  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Matt you say “I know this is some sort of odd thing I am doing.” I think most of us envy your project. Your energy is boundless, your friends are beyond generous, and sharing it with us is a lot of fun.

    It is awesome to watch a master like George work with wood, even if it is through a blog. Would LOVE to be a fly on the wall watching this whole process. (I guess we kind of are.)

  2. Danny Smith
    Danny Smith says:

    Thanks for sharing the update, you are doing an incredible job and your story telling is second to none. Keep the pictures and videos coming and please include me on grand opening invite list……I’ll bring the Pabst Blue Ribbon!

  3. Shep on Lake Shafer IN
    Shep on Lake Shafer IN says:

    Looks awesome Matt!
    Yes I do envy you! Hope to build my own shop soon!
    Would love to see yours in person sometime.
    Keep pictures coming in meantime.

  4. Frank@Falmouth
    Frank@Falmouth says:

    Wow,,, I can almost SMELL the sawdust! Watching a Master Craftsman like George always humbles me… YOU are a lucky many to be living a very enviable project….while doing the Community and Hobby a great service by preserving rapidly vanishing historical spaces like RMR! Thank you.
    I look forward to your “shop warming” party where I can ooh and ahh all the cools things youve done and rip off ideas for my spaces…
    And maybe you could post a “shop registry” of vintage and period tools that might further complete the look.. Im sure many of us have vintage items sitting around that we’d like to share with others and would donate to the cause…

    The RMR story thread has been my favorite and has inspired me to do some neglected projects in my Boat Barn, that preserve the old look and feel…

  5. Jeffrey Martinson
    Jeffrey Martinson says:

    Ditto all the above, especially the smells and sounds. I had them playing in my head scrolling through the story and then the video brought them all to life!

    I’m glad you found a legitimate use for the tools. I certainly wouldn’t have waited for that to run every single “toy” in that place 10 times before the first day was over. Like a kid with their first car – anyone need a ride somewhere?

    Awesome stuff, your joy is infectious (pardon the term, lol.)

  6. Kelly Wittenauer
    Kelly Wittenauer says:

    Thanks for letting us see this awesome historic machinery & amazing craftsman in action. Cool stuff!

  7. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    Give Matt a pandemic and he will buy a marine railway and he will restore and repurpose it. George is a treasure!

    • R.C. Hildebrand
      R.C. Hildebrand says:

      Matt, there’s nothing “odd” about your passion for re-skinning all of the old buildings & preserving the RMR property. You (and the crew) are doing a great job of incorporating all of the old materials. Really enjoying the daily updates & photos! Keep up the great work & I hope to see it all in person someday!

  8. Gary Van Tassel
    Gary Van Tassel says:

    I would love to meet George and talk boats. I grew up on Long Island and spent my summers before entering the US Merchant Marine Academy living on my families 36 ft. Bay City Cruiser in the Hamptons. One of my fondest memories as a teenager, other than getting into mischief on the water, was a relationship that developed with my own version of “George”. He was, to me at the time, the old timer at the Hampton Bays Boat Yard. When I was 17 or so the Bay City developed a garboard seam leak, that is a whole other story. My dad told me to run the boat over to the yard and get her hauled. I did all that. The yard was very busy and it was going to be days before they could re-caulk the seam. My “George” took me aside gave me a reefing hook, an old file re-worked, and told me to get on that seam and he would check back. He later came over with a caulking mallet, caulking iron and some cotton. He came back and forth that afternoon as he was doing his other jobs to check and teach. We re-launched that evening. I was on top of the world. I think “George” was as well. An enduring memory. My dad always told me that one of the most important things in life was a “good pair of hands”. My dad and “George” helped my hands along. I fear stories like mine will be few and far between in the future. We have new generations that have good hands, but they push buttons not hold tools. It is great to see the railway being preserved, but I morn the loss of a working boat yard. We have two working railways near Yorktown, VA. around the corner from me, but I fear they are an endangered species and not long for the world.

  9. Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P )
    Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P ) says:

    It was really cool to see all those big old machines in use. You can tell George knows what he is doing. From my experience with planers, the cutting blades on that old girl are very sharp. I could tell the by the sound. I, just lke Frank could smell the sawdust. If you know anyone in your area with Horses. Give them the sawdust/shavings. They will love it. Just make sure it is free of nails and screws. Made my Sunday morning!

  10. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    The good part about a band saw is, in my opinion, its one of the safer cutting tools. It doesn’t kick back like a table saw or circular saw can, and it doesn’t “feed” into the cut like a radial arm saw can as you pull it into the cut. It does require knowledge on how to resaw tho. I’ve set up a resaw fence similar to a table saw and found that the blade will wander from your mark and the only way you can control it is with the pivot fence George set up. Still, I tried with a regular fence and that blade will wander or pull away from your marked line. I guess that’s based on the tooth set and sharpeness on one side of the blade set or the other or the grain of the wood which may cause it to wander. Either way, its frustrating until you make that “pivoting” fence like George’s. I long for a big resaw but the funds are lacking. Can we set up a “go fund me” here? Asking for a friend.

  11. Don Stiles
    Don Stiles says:

    Matt, you didn’t waist any time. You are defiantly in the right place to get the creative wood juices going. With that set up and the talent around you time almost stands still. Keeping it real!!

  12. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    I am in agreement with every positive comment as above…especially Troy…who said it all….and Gary whose story is moving and important.
    Spent the night on the boat and was intending to drop in at the railway today but the weather sucks here in ole Va…warm but record sodden rains.

    John in Va.

  13. Matt
    Matt says:

    The Railway will be working in many ways. I suppose thats the point of it. But things need to be worked out for it to be up to saftey standards for all sorts of reasons. The big one is I dont know what I am doing. For example there is a power drill on sight that scares anyone that looks at it! HA! Ugh! OUCH

  14. Charlie from Maine
    Charlie from Maine says:

    Amazing story. Brings back memories and smells of Don Reeds shop, a local boat builder/restorer in my area. Our family has worked on many boats with him. Hope to one day visit your shop. Keep up the good work!

  15. Murdock
    Murdock says:

    Keep the faith, keep the fun and keep the stories coming Matt!!!
    Saving history, keeping it alive and seeing it work is about as good as it gets!
    Thank you!!!

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