Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Turning Freedom

Sorry for the gap in posts but I was down for over a week with an attack of vertigo. Good times. Like being on carnival rides without leaving home. Wobbling, falling, tripping on stuff and with throwing up optional.

As I sat around trying to get my eyes to focus and get a few lures painted and shipped I really didn’t feel much like writing. Since I was stuck in the house I didn’t have much to write about anyway. Then I went to the Post Office and while trying to figure out the most cost effective way to send something the man helping me asked what I was sending, when I said fishing lures that was all it took. Now I had my story to pass along, one worth telling, that means something and one everyone should find a small way to help with. Please, indulge me while I climb on my soapbox for a bit which I try not to do.

  As we tried to get my stuff shipped, David, who works at the PO, mentioned he was a woodworker, too. When he found out I turned my lures on a lathe he invited me to his shop only a few minutes from me. As we talked about what we made he said he was involved, along with many  others, in the Freedom Pen project. If you have never heard of this here is the short version, wood turners across the states donate time, money and materials to turn custom ink pens that are then shipped to our combat troops stationed around the world. This is an organization that has been around for 7 years now and many people have never heard of. As soon as I heard what they did and had the chance to go learn to make pens so that I could help I couldn’t wait. I told David that I would be over in a couple of days to see how they were made thinking the whole time that I needed to pass this along.

When I got to his shop there was one other turner there. This was Keith who had driven an hour and a half bringing pen blanks along with him. Later Lewis joined us with even more blanks and an amazing collection of pens he had turned. These guys are just a few that have taken this to heart, to send a small bit of home and a thank you to our troops.

We talked for awhile about what we turned, different materials, shows and sales then they started teaching me how to make pens. I love to turn but never claim to be all that good, I know how to do what I do but love to learn new techniques. We picked out some blanks then went through the process of getting everything set up, turned, finished and finally assembled. This is the results of my first attempt.

We didn’t get much turning done since they were spending more time explaining things to me but the results of some of David’s work was there waiting to head home with Keith to be added to the pens being sent to the troops.  In this shipment were 20 pens he had ready in a variety of materials mainly turned in one style. The people turning think about the people using these and make them to fit inside the narrow sleeve pockets many use on their uniforms. Just another bit of care these folks put into what they are making.

Mini Jet Lathe loaded with Osage Orange blanks.

Assembly area.

Well, enough about our day in the shop, this is about what these folks are doing and more importantly, who is getting the pens they make. We have troops stationed in combat areas all over the world. They do a dangerous job under hard conditions with no where near enough contact with home. Simple things that they receive means a lot to them from cards sent by school kids to packages from family, these are things that let them know we care and they aren’t forgotten. This is the idea behind the Freedom Pens project. People from across the nation provide materials, time, talent and yes, money, to send what is a simple thing to us to our people in the field. While it is a pen and some people think, ”So what?”, it is much more. When you are out where they are and receive something hand made from home it tells them we are thinking about them, hoping they are safe and come home that way. Then add the fact that it comes from someone you never heard of, may never meet but thought enough of you and your job to make it for you just to say thanks.

So here is the organization that started it Freedom Pens if you would like more information and history. This is one of those ideas that you can help with if you never walked into a wood shop in your life. Almost every one of us has family or friends that serves or has served and they deserve our support. Pen kits used in making these aren’t terribly expensive but have to be paid for as do packing materials and shipping. If you can give a few dollars to help a group in your area, please, do. These people are doing all they can and many don’t have much money to give away. What they do have is everything else in their shops it takes to make the pens and small donations can provide enough kits for this project to keep moving forward.

If you can help with the cost of a trip to grab a hamburger this will provide several kits to a turner. Any amount helps any organization with their project but since, at least locally, I have seen no administration costs of any kind all money donated here pays for materials. I’m sure this is the case wherever this is being done since it is all about the troops not making a penny from it. If you can donate a couple of dollars to this project I hope you will it means a lot to someone you may never meet but deserves our thanks.

And with that I will leave you with a few pictures from David’s shop while stepping down from my soapbox.
This is Lady who lost an eye and has been shot but is one of the sweetest girls around.

L-R David, Lewis in back and Keith.

David with a few of the pens heading overseas.

Pens headed to the troops. Sorry for the flare in the pic.


Anonymous said...

What a great thing to do for our troops and it sounds like a great bunch of guys for doing it too!

Albert Quackenbush said...

What a small world and a great way to share with others. Awesome stuff right there, Tommy. Everything happens for a reasons and look how it turned out. Can't wait to see some more of your creations!

Maureen O'Danu said...

Found you at Twitter. This is a great idea. Not only useful, but beautiful as well. Awesome. Thank you.

LB @ BulletsandBiscuits said...

I think you did a beautiful job on your pen....and I hope you are feeling much better.

My friend that turns wood gave Rambob and I pens a couple years ago for Christmas. I've never heard him mention the Freedom Pens program but I am definitely going to forward your post and links to him. I know he will get involved since he's retired military. Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention. You can get on your soap box anytime ;)

Chaplain to the Outdoorsmen said...

What a GREAT idea. So glad to see so many doing their part to support our Troops.


Pastor Kerry

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Born and raised in middle Tennessee.I'm a working wildlife and landscape artist specializing in watercolors. Now making cedar lures and custom turkey calls.



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