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self portrait - circa 1996


Joy Is in the doing

click for more info: GoodPlanet's peanut butter feedersI recently had the pleasure of spending a couple hours with one of the manufacturers that has provided our shop with bird and squirrel feeders, bird feeder and bird house kits, bird calls, bird houses, and other items for over ten years. It was amazing to see first hand the steps it takes to create an object out of a raw piece of wood, and in this case, reclaimed junk lumber destined for a landfill yet saved and turned into something useful!

The owner of GoodPlanet™ products was in the middle of the final assembly of his Peanut Butter Feeder. I asked him how many steps it takes to make one of these feeders, and after brushing off the saw dust, he handed me a note pad and stubby pencil from his workbench so I could take notes on what he had to say as he began talking me through the process.

He said “the lumber starts out in a variety of lengths and widths and first it must be planed and ripped (cut lengthwise) to the proper width and thickness, then cross cut to length; preliminary chop-saw cuts remove the bottom corners before the final rounding of the corners that I do at a bench sander. The feeder is then fed through a router to give both sides of the piece a decorative edge, and then all edges and surfaces are sanded on a bench sander.”

These feeders have either two, three, or four holes that accommodate PVC pipe inserts that he had already cut-to-length and sanded, and the next step was at the drill press drilling out these holes; another drill press operation - drilling out ½” holes that allow wood perches made out of dowels to be inserted through the body. Each wood dowel had been cut-to-length and ends rounded on the sander.

He took the feeders to a bench clamp where he hammered the PVC and dowels through the body of the feeder. The PVC pipe inserts were secured with a screw which had to have a pre-drilled countersunk hole first to accommodate the screw. “You sink the screw through just until you can feel a little bump on the inside of the PVC pipe, that way I know it is secured,” he said.

With the perches in place, he pre-drilled a pilot hole, and then sent a small thin nail in to secure the perches. All the while this was going on, we have been wearing ear protection muffs to deaden the workshop noise. After dusting the piece off with a large soft-bristled brush, the body of the feeder was now complete.

The day before, he had already cut, assembled, and painted a first coat on the feeder’s little red roof. It was now time to add the roof with two rust-resistant wood screws. Each roof had been edge routed, sanded, glued, and nailed, and now they were being screwed into the top of the feeder. “I save the second coat of paint after the final assembly, that way I know they’ll be flawless,” he said. He also screws in a zinc-coated eye hook for easy hanging.

The feeder was finished, and if my scribbling on the note pad was correct, it took approximately 39 steps to complete each Peanut Butter Feeder. I enjoyed the time spent with him in his workshop while learning about the extent of care, concentration, planning, set up, and the precision he practices working with wood. I also liked looking over the 4-foot shelf lined with upright wooden “jigs,” thing-a-ma-dos that he has made to help him ensure each item he makes is uniform.

Now I have a better understanding why something may cost $17.95, and realize it may not be nearly enough, but after watching this craftsperson and his orchestration I saw his recompense is not always monetary, his joy is in the doing.

Louise Dawson
on behalf of the the Naturalists at J.J. Cardinal’s

"The best gift is the one that includes a part of self."

PS: GoodPlanet's Peanut Butter Feeder is ideal for offering your own concoction (peanut butter, suet, seed, fruit) or cylinder-shaped suet logs like the Log Jammers from Pinetree Farms. More info »»

PSS: Spoiler Alert don’t read any further if you don’t want to know who “he” is.
Uncomfortable with being praised for his work, he requested I not reveal his identity in the above article. However I am so very proud to say the manufacturer of Goodplanet™ products is none-other than my wonderful husband, Mike!   He prefers our guests assume his woodworking projects were crafted by Keebler Elves.


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J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store ®
12830 S. Saginaw St., Grand Blanc, MI  48439  810-695-8733
07/01/10 illustrations, text & fun © J.J. Cardinal's 1992-2010
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