by Gus Goodwin
A chisel roll is an unlikely time capsule. Untouched in the three years since his death, the green canvas Ian salvaged from a discarded patio umbrella has protected his tools admirably. They are exactly as he left them: organized, razor sharp and without a spot of rust.
His mother and I sit at the dining room table he built for her with the tool roll open in front of us. We silently contemplate the tools she intends to give me. Ian was my closest friend and a gifted woodworker.
He was 24 when he was killed in a car accident and the tools tucked into the roll’s many pockets speak of a life in progress. A life cut short. On the left are the tools that got him started – flea-market finds, ground down to the last inch, but lovingly restored. A nearly complete set of high-quality new tools, a mark of his newfound status as a successful professional, advances from the right. Only one pocket remains empty.
I remember when the first of the new chisels appeared. It was after college, we were living together in Seattle, and Ian had just started work with a renowned furniture studio.