When I finally finished my plant stand project the other day, it ended a somewhat disappointing stretch of woodworking. I think every woodworker reaches a point where he or she builds a piece of furniture that doesn’t turn out as planned, or maybe runs into the woodworking version of “writer’s block”. For me, it was finishing the plant stand with the knowledge that I am planning on taking a hopefully brief break from woodworking this coming summer to finish up some projects around the house. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I won’t be woodworking, but I don’t have any plans to build anything in particular until the fall when then weather cools and conditions for woodworking are improved. Not lost in all of this is the scary thought that my plant stand, for reasons both foreseen and unforeseen, may very well be the last piece of furniture I ever make. It’s not very pleasant to consider, but it did get me to thinking: If I knew I was going to make only one more piece of furniture in my life, what would it be?
The truth is, at this moment I have no idea. I’ve been looking to build a Stickley 802 side table for quite some time. I think it is a lovely piece of furniture that would work well in my house. But had I week to live that wouldn’t be the piece of furniture I would choose to make. I think highboys are awesome, but they are beyond my skills and frankly they really aren’t my taste. I’m not into making chairs, and I have no desire to start. Another project I might consider would be a trestle-style dining table, but since we have a nice dining table already I haven’t really put much consideration into it. In fact, the only thing that vaguely comes to mind would be a card/game table; in the back of my mind I’ve always wanted to make a nice gaming table, but it’s never really been a project that I was willing to go out of my way to build.
So this all reminds me that maybe I have a little thinking to do when it comes to woodworking. While often times my woodworking projects arose from a need, I really think that a woodworker should sometimes make things not out of necessity, but only for the joy of making it. The plant stand I just made is the antithesis of that ideology, and that is possibly why I didn’t really enjoy the project. Sure, it turned out okay, it matches the other furniture in my living room, and it does fill a need. The one thing it lacked was a woodworker that really wanted to build it, and that made all the difference.
I’ve furnished the living room of my house and parts of the dining room, bed rooms, and family room. If I am going to keep woodworking, and keep enjoying it, I need to start making things for me. I like to believe that in making things “for me” I will not only become a better woodworker, but by default make useful pieces that my whole family will use and enjoy. That list may include some items that my wife might not care all that much for. With all due respect, I don’t really care. She isn’t making furniture, I am. It’s high time I started enjoying what I build, and if it comes down to something my wife would like to me to make, and I wouldn’t, she can always hop in the car and drive to Raymour and Flannigan, because I’ll be damned if that plant stand is the last piece of furniture I ever build.