When I was young, my father spent a lot of time wood working. He was really good at it. He made wooden trains and cars, doll houses, doll cribs, swords and shields, and a sawed off shotgun. He made a few life sized cribs as well and they were gorgeous. I wish we still had ours for my someday babies, but that's another story.
Dad spent a lot of his time working with wood. In my memories, my father smells of three things -- cologne, sawdust, and manure. He didn't often smell of all at the same time, but each smell individually brings to my mind stories of my Dad.
When my brother and I were little (and my sisters weren't in the way yet) it was our greatest joy to "help" Dad with his wood working. I got to saw things with a hand held saw (and not just my tree in the backyard), I got to measure stuff with a tape, and I even got to mark the wood with the cool flat pencil that never failed to enthral me. Dad taught us a lot about wood and tools. I can still use and/or name most of them now.
But the great part for us was when Dad would make us something awesome and let us paint. At the time, I was thrilled to be part of the creative process. Now, I recognize he nailed a couple of pieces of scrap wood together, called it a boat, and hoped to God we would leave him alone long enough to finish what he was really working on.
Even now, the smell of sawdust, oil paint, and turpentine make me think of those afternoons of hammering and painting stuff. Makes me want to build things.