Shoe Shopping

I’m a pretty terrible shopper, unless it comes to damn good groceries.  Give me a computer and a company that offers free shipping and I hastily fill the cart, but hesitate to check out.  I usually wait until its much too late to ship something I need and then drive two hours to go pick it up at the store, wasting both fuel and time.

I made a few wine trays and needed a quick fix for a handle.

 Handles can be daunting.   So many materials and so many cross sections you can create with the chosen material.   A handle can make or break whatever its attached to.  Proper function is paramount, but if the form is ugly, then no one ever gets close enough to perform the function.   As recycling and re-purposing picks up more and more speed, I have to be careful not to do something or choose a material that will remind someone of when they a similar item, it was poorly executed.

Horseshoes are a slippery slope.  They can be the perfect handle, allowing any sized hand to grasp and pull.   They can also be formed into some of the most tacky “art” that only belongs in the Wal-Mart sale isle.   I’ve got quite a few horseshoes as I’ve taken down/renovated several barns over the years.  I have this weird superstition.  I don’t take all available horseshoes…I always leave one.   I consider it to have the same purpose as the horseshoe on the fence.   Had I taken all the horseshoes excavated from the barn site, my luck would surely be damned, but my horseshoe stash would be great!  But since I always left one lucky shoe, I shall continue on the correct path of Karma, or Murphy’s Law, or whatever the title is of what haunts your gut feeling.

 I set a couple of horseshoes on the workbench and studied them from a distance as I assembled a wine tray.

    I then looked through my stash of hardware.   Copper nails.  They are meant for boat building.  These copper nails in particular are meant to hold the ribs to the gunwale of a wood and canvas canoe.  They look good against an old rusty horseshoe and the proportion is just about spot on to my sawdust filled eyes.   Perfect!  I’m relieved of the fear of the tray looking like it should belong in a cheap western gift shop at the strip in Myrtle Beach.

 I’m fortunate to have orders pouring in for the wine trays.  Unfortunately, my fortunes have dwindled my stash of horseshoe handles.    I’m also fortunate to live in Appalachia, but not fortunate enough to take the time to stop off at a horse farm or two and ask for a shoe.  I’m running low on sandpaper and need to order a good bit.  Do I?  No.  I hate ordering online.  I have to feel it in my hands.  I have to have the interaction with the cashier.   Instead, I get on Ebay and bid on 50 horseshoes from Florida.    I quickly find bidder’s remorse as I realize that I am now obligated to make 25 more wine trays, or do something with the shoes!   I never wanted to fall into one category, especially the “oh yeah, he’s the guy that makes furniture with horseshoes!”   I’d much rather be noted for the sliding dovetail, or other hand cut joints.  That’s the constant battle for woodworkers….creating something that is challenging and rewarding or creating something that will appeal to the masses so you can sell a few and squeak out a living.

I won the bid for the horseshoes, but I promised my friends that own a Vineyard that I’d have a couple of trays to them by Saturday for customers of their Solstice Celebration to purchase.  The horseshoes didn’t get in the mail on time.   Again, I should have just stopped in on one of the 100’s of horse farms on my way home and asked to buy some old nasty shoes they had kicking about.   Instead, I go to the antique malls.   Brand new horseshoes at the antique mall and they want $9.00 for them.  To boot, there are only two.  I leave the malls shaking my head.   $9.00 better come with free mounting  and trail hazard replacement plan!  I began my trek home empty handed.   I thought better of it, turned around, and went to the nearby Western Store.   There was an older lady,  a young guy, and an even younger gal behind the desk.  I told them my problem.  They looked perplexed.   They then offered new shoes, but I hadn’t the time to antique them.    The girl, probably twelve to thirteen in age,  perked up when I said I had just paid $1.00 a piece for them in Florida, but they won’t be here in time.   She said her dad had all kinds of horseshoes in the windows of their barn.  The Grandmother quickly chimed in and said she wouldn’t have time to get them to me before Monday.   Monday would be too late.   I enjoyed the connection and the gal’s desire to make some money cleaning out barns and collecting horseshoes.  Who knows what other treasures she might be able to get me from some of these old barns.   I wanted to make the connection and keep it.  I told her to go ahead and collect the horseshoes and to give me a call on Monday so I could make the deal and pick them up.

The following day, I receive a call from the Grandmother.  I learned a very valuable business lesson during this phone call.    Put a limit on how many horseshoes you require, especially when school is out and the gal is looking for some summertime cash.   I’m now 105 shoes the richer, and a whole lot of cash poorer.   105 shoes in one night!   And then she asks me if I need more on the following day!

 I still have the shoes coming from Florida, so 155 shoes in all.   Its a perfect test.  To not go down the trail of putting a horseshoe on everything I make.  I should go back and ask her to find me a pair of blinders in the barn.  I may need them to keep the shoes at bay from all projects!  But for now, I have the shoes on time, the Vineyard has a few trays, and I am set in shoes.  My wife on the other hand?   Well that’s a whole different story.  By the way, why is it that lengths of fixed hunting blades that you can legally carry is regulated, but the length of a heel on a woman’s shoe is not?  Seems afoul if you ask me since they both serve the same purpose!  Maybe I’l

One thought on “Shoe Shopping

  1. Bob Hopkins says:

    You should come out to our area and market those trays to our wineries. One Caution though, you might end up making nothing else once they catch on here. Call me. Bob Hopkins Fredericksburg, VA
    (703) 509-3223 Steve graduated with my older brother, I on the other hand had the good fortune of graduating with his sister Connie.


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