MYSTERIES OF WOODWORKING


I am mechanically minded. I used to delight in following directions printed in tiny, obviously translated steps to put together a new tool or device. Going through each step to make sure it follows the instructions was like a jigsaw puzzle. As time went on, the written steps were not as clear, and the object did not operate as promised. The vernacular became less familiar, and a lot of time was wasted trying to determine what was intended if they had only written it in English.

Years ago we ordered a redwood picnic table which arrived in pieces. Not being one content to wait for the man of the family to put it together, I laid it out on our deck with instructions in hand and proceeded to put the screws in the holes and suddenly it became a large and handsome table. I was understandably quite proud of myself, though I’ll admit a bit miffed that the man of the house was off playing tennis with his buddies. I later learned that the other men were impressed that I had actually done the job. The frost began to form when I found that my husband had said that he had known I could do it. A great way to get out of a job I’d say.

That was forty-five years ago, and the deck was replaced with a large family room shortly afterward. The table lived for a time under a pavilion at one end of the garden, obtaining a coat of white paint at one point, and joined by eight chairs. One summer we were seduced by a metal garden set with comfortable upholstered chairs and a built-in BBQ pit in the table. Quite handsome really. But what to do with the old table? Something that large and heavy is hard to get someone else to take home. As it was lying on its side and being rolled from one end of the yard toward an exit, it came to rest between a very large 50 year old orange tree and a lovely large fig tree. It seemed to feel at home there and it may have planned the move all along. You can’t trust old things. In its current and more convenient home, it has given us pleasure for many repasts, party and pick up. I wonder if it has a memory of its humble beginnings? Last Sunday on Mother’s Day, it hosted a crab quiche, fresh berries, and a delicious shortcake made by our grandson, while we brunched in the garden overflowing with roses and hummingbirds.

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

20 thoughts on “MYSTERIES OF WOODWORKING”

  1. And it can seat 8 hungry people. We have a large brick patio and used to set up a number of small tables throughout for a large party. It has been a fine house for entertaining, but the old table is just big enough now. Old table, old people! LOL

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  2. Aren’t you glad you didn’t have Dr. Advice take it to the dump? A good old table is worth its weight in gold. Bravo for the old table!!!

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  3. To be mechanically minded is a terrific plus point, for man or woman. Going to Bunnings which is a large hardware consortium in Australia I always admire and look for women that come out with hefty tools, especially jack-hammers or demolishing tools.
    Helvi claims each time she doesn’t know where the switch is for the vacuum cleaner!
    Putting together a strong table is something that I would praise enormously in a woman more than in a man. It’s very sexy.

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    1. As a fellow artist Gerard, you know how important it is to make our own tools, put together frames and in my case as a sculptor actually building framework for large pieces when needed. I was always quite strong and did a lot of plaster and cement work as well.
      I think it’s very clever of Helvi not to use the switch.
      I remember buying a piece of equipment at Sears years ago and had a smartass salesman ask if I was sure it was what my husband wanted. I did not recommend him for salesman of the year. Hopefully we have moved beyond that today.

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    1. De cluttering and minimalism are strangers around here. My studio is so crammed with “stuff” that each time I brought our great granddaughter in while I was working brought on loud crying which mysteriously stopped when I took her out into the hallway. Later I realized that there were things hanging on the ceiling, on the walls etc. Things people give me and things I love. I can’t minimalize!

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  4. So few things wear well these days and it’s a treat to have old, well built things around us.
    I put together a rotating compost bin, which astonished my son, especially after he assembled his own bin. Now, I have a leaf shredder to do, but I must say I’m quite intimidated by the instructions!

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    1. That DOES sound intimidating. They make instructions so complicated it really takes genius to decipher them. I think the hardest one I ever did successfully was a gas BBQ . Dr. A is good at a lot of things, but mechanics aren’t one of them.

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  5. I’m not particularly mechanical, so I admire your aptitude. I suppose the highlight of my furniture assembling career was putting together a Mission style china cabinet. It actually was marketed as a bookcase, but it did perfectly well in a smaller apartment for the cut glass and china. I can’t remember where I purchased it, but it arrived with instructions that included not a single word of any language: only some ambiguous diagrams showing parts that didn’t seem to exist. Somehow, I got it together.

    I love the story of your table.My parents’ first kitchen table eventually went to the basement and became a laundry table. Then, it was painted and went out on the patio. Then, when Mom moved down here, it became my dining table. When I started stripping paint, I discovered it was solid oak, so I refinished it and enjoyed it for years. When Mom died, I decided to keep her fruitwood dining table and chairs, so the oak table exited stage right.

    But the best table of all was my grandmother’s oak dining table. When she got a new one, my grandfather turned it into a wonderful oak blanket chest — which is sitting in my bedroom now.

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    1. All these things which get passed down become more precious/important as time goes on. I had my Dad’s old sea chest, which was nothing but a large wood box with flat top. It got painted with whimsical design which eventually wore off with the sun in the side yard. Then it held all manner of things including firewood, jam jars etc. The top was great for drying sculptures. Then we moved north and left it for someone else to enjoy.

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  6. I’m glad you repositioned the table, my Nan has just gone clear out mad and given away a lot of furniture (less to dust), garden stuff and clothes that she’d put in vacuum packs and not taken down for years, she said she felt better for it, although she’s worried now she’s lost a suit she could have worn to a wedding this year hehe.

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