Friday, November 5, 2010

Wood Working

When we buy furniture today we go to store to store and walk the isles of furniture totally overwhelmed with the amount of styles and the amount of patterns available to us. We then sit in as many couches and love seats as we can tolerate. Then once we have finally picked a style we know we can love for more than one year, we pick patterns from rows of swatches and then finally hand over our credit card.  Although these days we are lucky if our furniture lasts more than one year.

What we hardly ever think about though is how or who made this furniture. Was it hand made or factory made?  Was care and time taken to make this piece of furniture?  Or was the job rushed and sloppy?  Most of the time the consumer can tell right off the bat if something is well made.  These days just because it is a name brand does not mean it is well made.  You might be shelling out good money for it, but is it a keeper?  Will it last?

The truth is, the art of wood working is a craft that many young people today no longer appreciate. Back in the day many schools had a wood working class.  It didn't matter if you were male or female, everyone took the class.  In this class we were taught to measure twice or three times and cut once.  We made bird houses and simple projects that when you were done and followed that one simple rule our project came out actually looking like the bird house we planned to build.  It was something to be proud of, and still is.

Many of the schools no longer have these classes, or have them as electives so only a few kids take them.  Or they get dropped from the curriculum.   It's sad because it is a wonderful skill and there is nothing better then building your own furniture.  I have gotten the pleasure though the years to enjoy the benefits of this. Notice I said enjoy the Benefit of this, not that I made the furniture myself.

  My husband used to watch his grandfather work in his shop building furniture for family members.  I have seem many of his works and he is still building wonderful works of art today.  It is because of this man's love for the craft that he shared with my husband tht my husband followed in his footsteps and has taken up wood working as a hobby as well.  He loves it because he gets to create and use his hands,. I love it because I get to design it.  Yes that's right.  I get to design my own furniture. I even get to pick the colors, sometimes.. My husband has built for us book shelves, cabinets,  counter tops, our boys play table and their beds, radiator covers like the one pictured, even their toddler bed which everyone has loved so much it has been used by my friends two kids and now my niece.

My boys are now enjoying the benefit of my husband working in his own work shop as well.  They love to go in the work shop and "work" on their own projects while my husband works on his.  I'm hoping they follow in his foot steps and take up wood working as well.

So where do ideas for furiture come from? Need  inspiration?  Go to that furniture store, don't see something that is exactly what you want?  Bring a camera, or look though Pottery Barn for ideas. That's what I do. I tell my husband what I want and he tells me what he wants, then he draws it on graph paper and we tweak it to our liking.  It's a project we get to do together, only he does the hard work.

Now do you get the finished product within a day or week like promised at the store?  No,  you get the wonderful smell of fresh sawed wood, a happy husband doing what he loves and about a month or more later, usually much later then you expected,  you get the finished product.  Usually much cheaper then the store would have sold it to you, but yours was made out of love and you have memories of a project that was done with the love and care that should be put into it.

He just finished a butcher block cutting board right now.  He just showed me.  I had no idea he was even doing it, and yes we have already christened it. 
It's beautiful.

What do you think?  If you could design your own furniture would you? Would you prefer to have something custom made, or factory?  More importantly, can you stand the wait?  Tell me.

1 comment:

  1. Home made or hand made furniture is the way to. I'm partial to that as I have been a woodworker all my life. My Dad was a shipwright with the British Navy and he taught me all of his skills as soon as I was old enough to understand. I really couldn't imagine buying a store bought piece of furniture. Some of the projects I have done in that past ten years for our century home: A full mantle for the fireplace, (rail and stile panels made by hand), a complete kitchen made from scratch. (That nearly killed me), various cupboards and shelves.
    I think it is a skill that is falling by the wayside. Kids now a days should be encouraged to build stuff. There is nothing like the satisfaction of saying "I built that".


    P.S. I came across your blog on Denise Little's Blog in the comment section. I too have a manuscript waiting for approval. Fingers crossed. :-)