Woodworking Observations

I’m nearly finished with the bookshelf that I mentioned in an earlier post, and I’ve had several observations during the process:

1.  Quality costs money for a reason.

2.  Screws are better than nails.

3.  The can of stain claims to cover 900 square feet, but a square foot of pine and a square foot of oak are not the same.  When it comes to pine, there’s no such thing as too much stain.

4.  Wood putty covers a host of sins.

5.  Don’t hide all the tool marks.  Modern industrial processes can produce flawless artifacts, but human beings show what they’ve done.

6.  Use proper ventilation when applying. . . um. . . oh, wow!  Double rainbow!  What was I saying?

7.  We’ve cut down all the old growth trees, so today’s wood is cross-grained and knotty.

8.  If I build it out of real wood instead of pressboard, that white elephant will hang around for a long time to come.

The deepest lesson, though, is the self interest in giving.  For the money that I’ve spent, I could have bought a decent present and had done with it, but I had fun building this piece.  I got to experiment with wood, working through the process and gaining as much as I’m giving.  I made the backing of the shelf out of 1″ x 12″ boards and got to practice joining three of them together with dowels and glue and then planing them smooth.

I’m not saying that it’s a lesser act to buy just the right present for someone when you know what that is exactly.  I’m also not suggesting that ’tis better to give than receive.  Giving is difficult, since really no one knows better what I want than I.  I like receiving gift cards to my favorite stores, and I think that wedding invitations ought to declare the bride and groom to be registered at all the better banks.  What I am saying is that there’s nothing wrong with getting both joy and value for oneself out of the act of giving.  Giving doesn’t have to be a Kantian duty that we don’t enjoy.


2 thoughts on “Woodworking Observations

  1. nrhatch

    The stain, it’s plain, stays mainly where you plane. 🙂

    Glad you enjoyed the journey of the joinery, dowels, and glue (!)

  2. Patty

    Oh goodie! Homemade gifts are the best.

    I completely understand this statement:

    “For the money that I’ve spent, I could have bought a decent present and had done with it, but I had fun building this piece.”

    I recently completed a quilt for my cousin’s baby. For the amount of money I spent on that quilt, I could have paid the kid’s college tuition. I never would have gone to a store and bought something for that amount, but it’s not the same when you make it. Every piece of fabric, color combination and ripped out seam so I could sew it back together correctly brought me joy. A joy that I hope is transferred with the gift.

    That pleasure and sentiment can never be bought.


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