Some times I simply want to declare that my day went great today even though so many things tug at my time. I am not sure who the first person was that said “I had a great day.”, but somehow it seems, well, flat. Going into my workshop doesn’t so much excite me but, more, much more, it means sanity to me. If I spend three hours working on logistics for the books I am currently working on that’s fine as long as I know I can get out into the workshops and spend a few hours simply working and making. The blog, forums and answering the emails and question takes a great deal of time now and so I can only spend about eight hours making furniture and working in the shop in a given day. But that’s enough to keep me sane and when I am making I can rest from everything. The process for me has become increasingly important as I grow older – almost as important as completion and closure. Reconciliation is so critical to a work in progress and reconciliation is a minute-by-minute demand on any craftsman or woman. In the process of making we create shape, demand action and compel the work toward a fully inspired conclusion. The strategy and planning is as important as the work of creating and so we plan strategic points at which we rest and, then, with regrouped energy, work on.
Today was one of those days when planing, scraping and sanding pinnacled. The parts smoothed out and fitted are now the composition I aimed for, good or bad, and the decisions at this stage cannot be altered.
There was a time when I was ashamed by the tradition of my craft. I wanted the modern and the future not the past or even the present. I regret that now. Tradition undergirds the work of most designers, painters, artists and artisans. Yielding to the demands of tradition was to step into peace. I never looked back.
I finished the sanding and checking the parts for their definitive fit. This is essential and they must be fully assembled this last time now that they are fully sanded, to make certain there are no gaps on any of the shoulder lines. Once glue up begins there is no turning back.
Here is my glued up chest. There is something very orderly about this aspect of my work; the arrangement of the clamps, the arrangement of assemblage, coordination of the components, opposites uniting and such. The numbers and letters are now hidden in the joints for life. No one will see them again.
The other thing that’s important as a result of order is that it builds in safety during the assembly. A joint froze on me one eighth of an inch from the closed shoulder line. The chest was fully glued up and everything else was in order but for the one joint. Experience told me that any frozen joint will go with two things; an extra clamp and an unflinching hammer well aimed. I took a clamp from a closed joint, united it with the existing clamp and, under the extra pressure, struck the leg. The joint snapped to and the shoulder seated perfectly and I retightened the one clamp and replaced the other.
You should remember that one. You’ll need it some day.