Posted on March 18 2016
Our customer Dean Smoll sent us a very kind note the other day. He'd meant to post it to Instagram, but ran up against the word count limit and emailed it instead. It's such a nice sentiment, we thought it deserved a home on the blog. Here's Dean on woodworking, appreciation, and admiration:
"There are many times in life that you take the things that others do completely for granted. Today is not that day! Lemme tell you guys a story.
In the summer of '83 I was 18 and working at a summer camp. I discovered a derelict cedar and canvas canoe in a shed and I fell in love. In the summer of '87 I was working at a different camp and got to talking with a guy about wooden canoes and a book I had seen, but couldn't recall the name of, about strip-built canoes. He put it indelibly in my memory: "Canoecraft, man. It's called Canoecraft.”
That winter I started hunting around, calling bookstores, contacting the publisher, and a month after sending a check off into space (remember, this was a really long time before the Internet or Amazon) I got my book in the mail. It was February of '88. I read it all in the next two days.
I read it again the next week.
I met a girl and told her of my dream to build a wooden canoe.
I read the book again the next year.
We had a kid, moved, took a new job, had another kid, and another...
I read Canoecraft again.
I read it again, in bed, in the winter, multiple times.
In the spring of 2002 I had the money, the time, and the space, so I sent off to Bear Mountain for Nomad plans. I bought locally lumbered sassafras and ash, milled the planks, and began!
My 5 yr old daughter played with the curls of planed wood. My friends stopped by to see how it was going. It began to form under my hands. In September after around 6 months of TV time lost (hahaha, lost, as if...) it was done. We took it to the lake, sprayed a can of Miller HighLife over the bow, and went paddling. It was AWESOME!
That boat has been everywhere. Both bow and stern have been patched a few times; the bottom is marked by too, too many rocks I didn't see ahead of me (a little like my soul is actually), and the ash gunnels have been varnished, sanded down, and varnished again, a few times.
And yet, every time it slides into the water, it draws the eye, and the compliments of onlookers, and my continued admiration. I guide a piece of me; and let's be honest here, a piece of you; down every body of water that suits my fancy. Ducks salute! (OK, not really a salute, more of a quack, but still...)
I've said thank you before, when I stopped by to visit you guys in August of 2011. It was a really cool visit by the way; just like 30 min and you both were so friendly and accommodating to a drop-in. I want to say it again in a way that won't fade with the wind or the dust of my car down your drive. Thank you so much for doing what you love and sharing that with us. Thank you so much for mentoring us all with your words. Thank you for inspiring us with the patience that those words imparted to us, first time woodworkers, daunted by the idea that there was not a straight line to be counted on as a reference (that was a scary concept, man!).
Thank you Ted! Thank you Joan! Thanks again and know that what you do matters!
-Dean (Dino) Smoll
P.S. I've included some pics of the boat and my family. Also, I've included a pic of the inside cover of my copy of your book. It was really important to me when I got it, it remains so to this day.