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Woodworking on the Brain

These days I can’t help but examine every structure I see for design and construction hints. I find myself staring at leaves and branches and thinking about how I could incorporate those beautiful lines into an inlay or table leg. So it was no surprise to me when while sitting in a parking lot waiting for a business contact to get his cup of coffee that I began obsessing over this simple rough board fence.

It’s nothing special in construction, just some 4×4 sunk into the ground and 2×8 nailed across them. But look closer and you can see the circular saw marks on the rough sawn planks. I figure the diameter of the saw to be around 30 inches so these cedar planks were obviously sawn at a mill. All of the mills that I have visited in the local area use a band saw for sawing up trees so this must have come from out of the area. In addition, you don’t find a lot of Cedar in the mid Atlantic states.

It was at this point in my reverie that my client came back to the car and I went on with my day, but I can’t help but think about how I look at the world as a woodworker. Have you ever been sitting in a restaurant and wondering how the chair you are sitting in was put together, or noticed that the table top has a breadboard end and wondered how it has held up to the wear and tear of a busy restaurant? George Walker said in his Woodworking in America presentation that observation is the key to design. I think that as woodworkers we naturally are drawn to the “how does that work” of every day life.

So here is where I alienate my non woodworking readers (if they exist). I think that this hyper observant trait makes us more intelligent, open minded, and in tune with our surroundings. We are well adjusted individuals yearning to make something beautiful and thoroughly enjoying the process of making it. You never hear about a woodworker snapping and “going postal” on anybody.

Remember this the next time someone rolls their eyes when you point out the tools marks on a telephone pole or the underside of a table top and just tell them it is your way of paying homage to the craftsmen that came before us.

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