13 December 2011

Christmas in the Workshop

I am not one of Santa's elves, but at this time of year I do a reasonable impression.

This year, I am making a couple of hope chests for my daughters.

As I mentioned a few posts down, when speaking of the altar, the hardest woodworking is straight lines and flat surfaces.  Any mistake will be glaringly obvious.  You may, for example, remember this piece of woodwork that was rather famous a few years back:


Most people, I imagine, looked at it and thought: "Big deal.  It's a flat box, nothing fancy."  Woodworkers look at it and think: "Wow!  It's a flat box! Nothing fancy!" We say that because we know how incredibly hard such simple perfection is to achieve. The very flatness and plainness of the coffin mean that the joinery must be perfect, and it was.  The corners are joined at non-square angles, and the joints are perfect.  Several woodworking magazines wrote pieces on this coffin, and more than a few tried to locate and interview the cabinet maker who created this.  While I can't say this is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, I can say that this piece could only have been made by a master of the craft.

My own joints are pretty good, if I do say so.

After you cut about four or five hundred dovetails, it starts to get a little easier.

The chests are made primarily out of recycled materials, or 'garbage' as it is more commonly known.  In this case, a coffee table and a few headboards and a chest of drawers have provided virtually all the wood.  This morning I realized I didn't have enough for both the lids, and I had to go to the store and get a little wood, so thus far I have spent $25 on the chests.  I still have to buy hinges and some aromatic cedar for the lining.  Still, cheaper than buying new.

To the kids:  I'd love to get you some new computers and iphones, all pimped out with the latest gee whizzery, but I am having a little trouble 64 bit microprocessors out of wood.

Update:  Well, that just figures.  I have been watching my usual sources for wood for the lids for over a month, and nothing suitable shows up.  Yesterday I went and bought some boards for one of the tops, and today I someone tosses out a pine shelving unit.

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