When you’re an amateur woodworker, this, that, or the other thing can easily take precedence over your hobby. That’s life, and not too long ago I finally came to the conclusion that it isn’t worth complaining about, even if complaining is a form of catharsis.
Unfortunately, for my love of woodworking at least, I’ve had very little free time over the past month. The good news is that the weather is breaking and spring is approaching and it just so happens that spring is my favorite time of year to woodwork. The bad news is two-fold. Firstly, on Saturday afternoon I did manage to get in a little woodworking, and all of it was basically wasted time. Last week I cut the pin boards for my ‘Paul Sellers’ dovetailed shoeshine box, which also happened to be the moment my daughter took the ‘Old Guy’ photo of her old man. On Saturday morning I had a bit of free time, so I figured that I could get the pin boards sawn as well as plowing out the groove for the sliding lid. And if all went well, I would have completed the glue-up.
As some of you who read this blog at times may already know, only very recently I’ve begun to saw my dovetails ‘tails-first’ after doing them ‘pins-first’ for five years. I’ve jokingly said that pins-first is superior, but in reality there is very little difference, and it really just comes down to which side of the pencil mark you are sawing. So because Paul Sellers saws his boxes tails first, I’ve been doing the same thing, if for no other reason than to expand my horizons. My first two attempts were disasters, but I’ve finally gotten the hang of it (or so I thought).
To be brief, on Saturday morning I sawed the pins for the back board and got a very nice fit (grudgingly I admit the fit was as nice as any fit I’ve ever had sawn pins first). I then cut the left side pins for the front board, had a great fit, and proceeded to mark the right side. A visitor stopped by, we spoke for 10 minutes or so, I went back to my box, and promptly sawed the pins on the wrong side of the mark, leaving a saw-kerf wide gap. So I ended up with a box with three perfect (near enough) sides and one gappy as hell. I couldn’t live with that, so I had to saw off the tails so I could re-use the board (the pin board is “special” as in smaller and cut a bit differently, so I cannot simply remove the pins or start over-it will be much clearer when I post photos of the completed box). Regardless, I was mad, but mostly at myself for allowing a minor distraction to mess up my work so badly. I’m better than that, but it is what it is as they say.
At that point I gave up for the morning; the wind was out of my sails and I had had enough. There is a school of thought in which a mistake should be addressed immediately, but I’ve found that with woodworking, a step taken back is the way to go (for myself at least). And while my mistake was enough to really frustrate me, Sunday morning was easily the most upsetting portion of the weekend.
As I said earlier, it appears that the weather has finally broken, and we decided that Sunday was a good day to start spring cleaning. To be fair, my wife was cleaning our living room and I was knee deep in my Sunday morning ritual of washing mounds of clothes. As far as my living room is concerned, there is a book case, a plant stand, three end tables, and a television stand all made by yours truly. Being that they are made of wood, they need to be dusted occasionally, and my wife wasn’t too happy about it (not that I blame her). As the cleaning commenced, m wife proceeded to tell me that she really doesn’t care for my furniture because “we don’t need any of it”. Normally I am not a person to back down, but I didn’t say much. I can’t say that the furniture in my living room is perfect or even very good, but I think it looks pretty nice, and it certainly does the job.
I didn’t feel all that great about woodworking after that conversation, and at this point I am seriously considering giving away most of that furniture and just having my wife go to a furniture store to pick out what she likes, which is probably the easiest solution and probably the course of action I am going to take. In the meanwhile, I don’t mind making items such as small boxes, because I can use them in my garage for holding tools, or drill bits, and other miscellaneous items. More importantly, my wife won’t have to look at them. One more upsetting piece of this ugly puzzle is the fact that over the past few months I had been prepping some construction lumber in an experiment to make “fine furniture” from two-by stock. I had mentioned making a night stand for our bedroom and that idea was immediately shot down. Truthfully I didn’t have anything overly specific in mind, and I can always save that wood for if/when the day ever comes when my wife decides that my furniture doesn’t offend her anymore.
Most amateur woodworkers understand that a skilled hobby requires at least some dedication. That dedication requires a price, and the support of your family. It is abundantly clear to me now that I do not have that support, and maybe I never did. I can’t complain, however, because maybe it’s me. Either way, I have to find a way through it.