Real Woodwork is Black and White

DSC_0041The simplicity and innocence of Shaker style furniture has consistently spoken for itself for well over a century and a half. Without decoration it has somehow managed to speak boldly from the innate authority it carries that defies decoration as well as explanation. We can add nothing to it and take nothing from it. Simplicity expressed through simple workmanship needs no signature for the work itself is its signature.
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Evening is one of my favourite points in any day – about a minute before I put the key in the lock and secure my favourite things behind three feet thick stone walls and a 15 foot tall door three inches thick with studs through. My second favourite time though none the less enjoyable is unlocking the same door and looking at what I left on my bench the night before locking the door.

DSC_0065There’s something so black and white about my work that adding colour adds nothing to it except confusion. Imagery? Perhaps that’s possible but not really. The shadows on a chair seat, light flashes on the ripple of bandsaw cuts across an oak board need no colour. Colour would simply become a distraction. The smells escape me somewhat after a full day immersed in it, but it’s there none the less. Surely my life has been a full one. Fifty years working with something I love so much and tools that served me so well.

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I think I could make this deacons bench in a bout ten hours, but I took three days because of the prep work for filming and doing my photography too. It would readily sell for £200 and I would be content. Variations are always possible and this bench could be as long as the planks you might have available to you. All you need after that is a few more legs in between.
My day ebbed and flowed as I worked and I could feel my heart pumping at different points as I pulled the parts together and coaxed them into their place in the whole. In a month or so it will be new series on woodworking masterclasses and I will have started something new.

1 Comment

  1. Bruce Mack on 22 June 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Paul,
    You are a fine teacher and observer. I’m grateful to you for your many wise articles.
    Thanks and regards,
    Bruce