So much wood; so little talent

Well, I am no longer in need of wood.  If you can see in the picture, there are no fewer than  five separate stacks of wood.  I now have some nice maple, cherry, and even a little walnut to play with.  Wasn’t it just last week that I was complaining about having to wait for wood?  Now I am tripping over it to get to the fridge (you know, where the beer is).  A wise friend of mine once said “always leave a path to the fridge, in case of emergency.”

Well, now I can follow his advice and start getting rid of some of this cherry by building something about which my wife will ultimately ask “what are you going to do with this?”.  God bless her, do I have to have a reason for everything?

I’ve had my eye on this nice little Shaker cabinet I saw in a magazine.  They called it “the Enfield Cabinet”, named for its location in Enfield, Conn.  It’s a very simple jelly cupboard-type of cabinet, with very simple lines and very straight forward construction.  Its simplicity, as is the case with all Shaker-style furniture, is its main source of beauty.  The Shakers had a way of overstating the simple.

Anyway, yesterday I began what, for me, is one of the most difficult and picky parts of the process of building a piece of furniture: The Great Choosing of the Wood ceremony.  This is when I don my Grand Poo-Bah-of-wood-sorting hat and begin to confer upon different pieces of lumber (with an imperious wave of my folding stick rule) their station in the hierarchy of furniture parts.  “You will be a face piece” (imperious wave)–“You will be a back piece (another imperious wave, followed by a quick measurement; it is a stick rule, you know)–“You will burn in our fires”–that sort of thing.

Boy, I really do wish it was that easy.  I agonize over grain patterns, figure (or lack thereof), size, color, matching boards to be glued-up into a panel; it really is a picky business.  Anyone can grab just any group of boards without knots and glue them up into whatever width is needed.  You see it all the time at ‘big box’ furniture stores. But a nice piece of furniture that you may spend up to 40 hours building deserves better treatment.  Grain patterns should match.  Boards glued into a panel should have the same color, and the figure should complement rather than contrast.  I can easily go through 300 boardfeet of lumber to find the right pieces for a cabinet that requires fewer than 100 boardfeet to build.  I’m almost exhausted by the time I’m done, and now the path to the fridge is blocked.

Well, after getting a beer from the house fridge (let’s face it, I’ve moved enough lumber for the day), I look at the stack that has been chosen.  Each board has been marked and cut to rough sizes; their stations in the furniture kingdom diligently marked on the edges so as not to be milled off before I can remember where they go.  I fold up my scepter and slip it into my hip pocket.  Tomorrow I’ll move the stack into the basement for a couple weeks to equalize its moisture content with its eventual environment.  I sip my beer, looking at the stack of maple in the corner.

I think I see a bookcase side staring me in the face.

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About Sam

Young, good-looking, manly--you get the picture. Novice woodworker with just too much rolling around upstairs to keep to myself. Random thoughts, philosophical questions, the occasional flash of insight or just dumb luck that needs to be shared with anyone who cares.
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