Popular Woodworking 2003-08 № 135, страница 8
Hot on the Trail of Hardwoods
There are many aspects of woodworking that cast a spell on people, drawing them into a lifelong affair with the craft. For some it is the pure escapism of leaving everyday stress behind for the precious hours of solitude in the shop. For others it's the joy of engineering a project to find an elegant solution to its construction. For still others it's the pure joy on the face of a child who just received a handmade toy.
For me, there are two allures that inspire every project from the start. Interestingly, both are like dance partners: Each plays a role, and each relies on the other to succeed. What's always been my passion is finding awesome wood and then making the best use of it in a well-designed project.
In my earliest days of woodworking, I had several experiences that lit this fire in my belly. The first was reading James Krenov's "A Cabinetmaker's Notebook" (Linden). In it, he described the importance of finding special material to work with and then studying the grain to put the beauty of the material to best use. From my earliest projects, "showing off the wood" was important, even when my workmanship still needed development.
That meant spending time matching boards to their best advantage when making tabletops or door panels. The slope or curvature of the grain dictated its position in the stiles and rails of a face frame or door.
The next big influence was the opportunity to research the work of and interview woodworker George Nakashima. He and his outstanding book, "The Soul of a Tree" (Kodansha), introduced me to another important concept: Trees, special in their own right as majestic living things, can have a second life after their demise in the form of thoughtful furniture made by sensitive crafts
men. Nakashima extolled this virtue in his work. He made furniture using planks of lumber that came from his private stock - mostly walnut he collected from the United States, southeastern Europe and the Middle East. Nakashima's furniture often included a "free" edge, the natural waney edge of the tree just below the bark. He even used thick slabs of root stock, complete with voids and edges shooting off in many directions. His work always reminded the viewer of the origins of the material. It was a tree!
Then I had the privilege of spending six years in a custom furniture manufacturing company that turned out hundreds of unique furniture projects every year. The work was designed by top interior designers and architects and built to exacting standards with exquisite finishes. Every item used custom-ordered veneers, laid up in beautiful patterns. These veneers were sliced from trees that could be classified as some of the most spectacular in the world, with grain patterns most people see only in books. The veneers were complemented with solid lumber of equally special status.
These experiences whetted my appetite and set me on my quest for finding, then using, special materials when I can find them.
My lumber lust hasn't taken me far from home, and it hasn't cost me a bundle of cash. Sometimes it was in my own backyard or down the street (see photo on page 49). So don't think it's out of your reach. But if your yard or neighborhood is barren of standing timber, be sure to read our road map to finding the objects of your lumber desires. PW
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Safety is your responsibility. Manufacturers place safety devices on their equipment for a reason. In many photos you see in Popular Woodworking, these have been removed to provide clarity. In some cases we'll use an awkward body position so you can better see what's being demonstrated. Don't copy us. Think about each procedure you're going to perform beforehand. Safety First!
Popular Woodworking August 2003