Monday, November 11, 2013

Meeting Patrick Leach

The internet is a funny thing... you hear enough about someone, and you start to build a story in your head of what you imagine that person is like. I'd like to spin a tale about how the fireplace in Patrick Leach's smoky, timber framed banquet hall was burning a pile of transitional planes, while he sat in an old chair that topped a dragon's hoard of rare tools. Instead, it was a normal, well lit, tasteful home, and I really wouldn't have guessed anything about the vintage tool thing from looking around. He met me at the door, and had the draw knife I wanted (the reason I went in the first place) sitting on the kitchen counter when we walked in  I talked with him for a bit, he used to be a software engineer, (I think that's what he said... I know he left a tech career behind) and he was, by all indications, just a normal guy. I kept talking tools for a minute, and I'm sure he smelled that I wanted to see the treasure room. So, he invited me in, and I thought to myself "Ah HA! Into the hall of wonders we go!"

 I think I half-expected him to welcome me into a shining museum, and throw his arm out as he welcomed me into the vaults with a grandiose gesture. Instead, he brought me into a normal garage, with several stacks of tool-filled, cardboard banana boxes on one side. Bundles of hand saws were stuffed in between boxes on the storage shelves, a few plough planes were just sitting on top of piles, and an old glass cabinet was up against the wall, filled with molding planes. It was a pile-up, not a dragon's hoard. He was just trying to pack it all in, until he had time to organize or get it all sold, whichever came first.

"Email me if you need something. I probably have it, and probably know where it is. The basement is worse than this, and I still need to unpack the van from last weekend. Half the time I get stuff at auctions, and I buy up a pile to get one or two good things, but... look at it all. So, just ask."

He's a capitalist at heart, so it's all for sale. I asked him where it all came from. There's no secret, he said. It's just a lot of work. He spends a lot of time beating the bushes. That's when my dorky preconceptions finally crumbled. He's a guy with a cool job, but he's just a guy, it's just a job, and it's hard work. We talked for another 20 minutes or so about normal woodworker stuff: The decline of western civilization, entitled kids these days, working a trade versus going to college...

Bottom line, he was a really approachable, likeable guy, and a pleasure to do business with. My hand tool habit still needs to take a back seat pretty soon, so meeting Patrick is going to cause me nothing but trouble. Now I know where I'm going to look for new tools... even when I really don't need them.


Chris Schwarz said...

Nice try at legerdemain, James. But we know the truth about Patrick.

JW said...

From you, that almost sounds tawdry. :-)