You spend thousands of dollars on woodworking tools, it adds up very quickly, even at auctions
and garage sales and soon swmbo wants to know: "When are you actually going to make something?"
I really did get into all this thinking of the wonderful furniture I could make but soon found myself equally enamored of the tools needed to make things. There is a chunk of history that lies dormant in these old Maine river towns, not that it doesn't lie so all across the country. Something trips inside of me when I see an old piece of machinery, probably long unused, rusted, abandoned, and I begin to imagine the people who worked at this piece of arn. I begin to imagine what it would be like to see it run, to really use it again. And I buy it. And now I even make things.
Not too long after my daughter Zoe was born, 1970, I began to notice the abundance of older oak pieces at garage sales. We were living in Napa, Calif. and had not been there too long - a story of some compexity.
Not having much working capital I began to buy odds and ends, things that were broken and loose, and putting them to rights. It was quite satisfying.
Years and years later a different 'we' arrive in Auburn, Maine in May of 2001, and I discover auctions, and I rediscover old oak glowing through the dust. Old oak is pretty well despised here. The big bucks go to really beat-to-hell, and poorly-made, pine pieces. Shabby stuff. Such is style and public opinion.
The oak library table on the left was bought for $100; I later realized just how vastly I had overpaid. I flipped the badly damaged top and rebuilt the shelves, and here it is. This is our fabulously inviting guest bedroom. Care to come look at it?
I did nothing to the chair, it is 'as bought' except that Pat put new leather on the seat. Looks great.
My first project for swmbo, not her first choice, was a mirror. The mirror was $10 at a second-hand store and is thick glass with nice intact silvering. The frame is red oak with mahogony trim. The corners are glued-up, dadoed lap joints. The strips, my homage to Greene & Greene, masters of Arts&Crafts style, have a slight southwestern feel. It was a pretty simple project, but one much-lauded by swmbo - praise the gods of woodworking! I was able to use my jointer, planer and bandsaw on this and learned a bit, at least enough to venture further along.
The next project was also for swmbo; do we detect a pattern developing here? Naw... The adventuresome nature of Waldo-the-wonder-dog, who will have his own page, led to the building of a puppy-proof knitting cabinet. He thinks yarn is scrumptious. The cabinet is allegedly A&C, my own take, all of red oak, imported from Vermont, and of my own design. (Gustav would
never have approved it.)
Knowing that my joints are not always quite tight, and that the old standard, yellow glue, does not fill voids to add strength to such loose joints, I quietly transferred my allegiance to a poly urethane glue: Gorilla Glue - Diane Fossey move over, we have bonded! Well, this stuff foams, oozes, expands, creeps - remember that wonderful Steve McQueen movie, the Blob? This is the blob-in-a-bottle. Supposedly, it will easily scrape and/or sand off so that a finish may be applied with the least fuss...yeah, right.
The cabinet is splotchy - the Blob ate my homework! - especially toward the ends of the slats. It ain't my fault! Honest!
Voila! What looks to be a solid cabinet suddenly opens on each side to reveal a large storage area.
Double wow! The top center board lifts off to reveal a foot-deep storage area there too!
What isn't real obvious, but a favorite of mine, is the double tulips cut into the sides that don't open. I do believe that ornamentation should be attenuated, but that is easier said than done. The question is never 'what to do?' but "when to stop?'
On the far, far right is a view of the puppy-proof A&C knitting cabinet that shows the 2 tulips a little better. Subtle is very nice, but should not be confused with unoticeable.
My next swmbo-induced project is a stand for a 30" TV; I am thinking on this. It shouldn't be too hard to amalgamate a TV with A&C. I mean machinery, home appliances, had begun to appear within the context of A&C, so the worlds they existed in are not exclusive. I will come up with something. I have to confess here that I never build from plans. 1. I really don't quite understand how to use them, and 2. my own ideas are better anyway.
Don't expect TV stand pics for a few weeks, at best. I find it very comforatble to watch it with it sitting on the floor anyway.
(Ok, I look and look and the tulips are fiercely difficult to see. Take my word for it: they are present.)