Image by MontanaRaven via Flickr
In another life, I had hobbies of all sorts. I used to draw. Pencil art, mostly, and I was particular to the comic book-style artwork. Line art, essentially, with some shading and such, but most of it’s open art. I got into trying to draw with Photoshop too, but I’ve neither the time nor the equipment to make that happen in a meaningful way, so I’ve dropped that.
Before that, a lifetime before that other life, I built furniture. Yep, I took planks of wood of various kinds, cut them into pieces sized appropriately to the particular thing I was constructing, and through varied methods of joining them together, I built furniture. Carcass work for the most part, but I could do other things. (In the strictest sense of the industry, I was probably a cabinetmaker, not a furniture builder; I did not address matters like chairs or upholstered pieces.) I built a couple of tables, and a few cabinets for various rooms. I custom-built a buffet that hung on a wall in our house, where, as far as I know, it remains to this day. That was a wish from my beloved, and a labor of love.
My favorite part of the process was finishing. There is a long-standing saying among woodworkers that a bad finish can ruin a great piece, and a great finish can save a mediocre piece. I took that to heart after being unhappy with a few finishes I’d applied to early pieces, and decided wasting wood wasn’t an option anymore. So I got hold of some books and a couple of videos and studied them, and learned everything I could about furniture finishes.
My favorite furniture finish was wipe-on polyurethane or other high-resin finishes, like varnishes. I loved them because you could do so much with them when they cured. I could knock the sheen of the surface to either a semi-gloss or even a flat (although it’s easier to just buy flattened varnishes, which have silica added to them), or polish them to a high-gloss, mirror finish, which gleamed in the light like a still, clear mountain pond and shimmered in the light of a room or from the sunlight falling through a window.
I also loved the marrying of left- and right-brained activity involved with making furniture. The aesthetic aspect calls upon the creative, voiceless, image-oriented right-brain, while the precision of calculation, measurement and joinery required to make two or more pieces of wood stay together in a strong and lasting way requires the logical, language- and process-oriented left-brain. For me, it was a great match.
Oh, and I love the smell of sawdust and metal and oils in a woodshop. The cast iron tables of the stationary tools, blades, the whine of the motors … there’s something primal, guttural in that. And the solitude, concentration and focus of using fine-tuned hand tools – planes, saws, chisels, spokeshaves, riving knives, scrapers – there’s a poetic calm, a meditative sort of trance-like state achieved in those moments, which stretch to hours without your notice.
I loved woodworking, and miss it dearly. As years of my life slip away, lost to the rushing white-water rapids and crashing boulders of time’s river, irretrievable and irreplaceable, I wonder if I’ll ever do it again.
What about you? What hobbies do you have, or have you had before?
Related articles by Zemanta
- Superman Comic Books – Important Issues and How to Get a Discount
- Nothing says love like getting wood for Christmas
- Good Questions: Restoring a Wooden Furniture?
- Revived Antiques from Ghost Furniture
- Good Questions: Staining Wood Project