Out of the Woodwork: To Rip or to Split?

Sometimes sawing isn’t the smartest solution.
By Jim Tolpin
Page: 108

From the November 2004 issue #144
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When I lived in Pennsylvania, an Appalachian furniture maker I met gave me this mystery to solve:

“Back near the turn of the last century, the new fire chief of Cumberland, Md., decided to replace one of the station’s old and fire-singed wood ladders. Seeing he could obtain the ladder quicker and at a better price by ordering it from a commercial outfit in Philadelphia rather than hiring the job out to the usual supplier – an old orchard ladder maker who lived way back up a West Virginia hollow – he requisitioned the funds and made the purchase.

“When he brought the new ladder into the fire house, the lead fireman took one look at the ladder and said he would not set foot on it if his life depended on it. Which of course, it did in his line of work. The surprised chief looked closely at the ladder: the side rails were made of full length, defect-free white oak heartwood and the rungs were made of clear, hickory heartwood. All the joints were well done and securely fastened. Why, then, did the captain vehemently reject the chief’s purchase?”

From the November 2004 issue #144
Buy this issue now