Sunday, April 29, 2018

Lee Pitts: The Cowboy Arts

I'm proud to say that I was a vocational student, even though the rest of my high school looked down on us and we were quarantined far from the regular campus. Teachers and school administrators weren't used to straight A students and the smartest kid in the class learning to weld and one even suggested to my mom that my smarts would be wasted by taking agriculture. He suggested I'd make a "wonderful lawyer." If there is such a thing.

I've always been a shop rat and taking ag class meant you got to take an hour of shop every day. I've always enjoyed fixing things in our home, for neighbors, antique dealers and even museums and to me a perfect day is spending all day and evening tinkering in my shop. I've collected thousands of tools used for carpentry, welding, soldering, carving, leatherworking, engraving, jewelry making, airbrushing, embossing, tinsmithing, upholstery, blacksmithing, and engine repair. I even have some dental and orthopedic surgery tools so if you need a tooth pulled or a bone set, I'm your guy. (If you don't mind anesthesia by one of my over 100 hammers.)

I've gone through phases of what I liked to do best. I started out by wielding wrenches back when cars came straight from the factory with a sick engine or cranky transmission. When they started putting computers in cars I lost interest and switched my allegiance to wood carving and woodwork. That phase lasted until I realized a guy that's overly medicated probably shouldn't be using a table saw. I'm lucky to have survived that phase with all my fingers intact. I've always loved to weld and one summer in the oilfields I was a pipeline welder's assistant. He discouraged my taking up the profession because he said all welders became cranky old men. I listened to his advice but became one anyway. A cranky old man, that is.

Then I found the perfect hobby: leatherworking. It satisfies two of my biggest urgings, I get to pound on things and it requires lots of tools. Some of them are wicked looking things like round knives and head knives and they took a long time to master, but here's my secret to surviving the learning phase: Super Glue. It's better than a bandaid for cuts.

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