The Kitchen Table
This is the first in what I hope will be an occasional collection of entries tracing my personal interest in furniture design, building and at Fibrenew, repair. I have always been interested in design, building and, eventually, manufacturing. I loved making dioramas for school and best remember a windmill with tulips. It’s not clear when these interests first took hold, but the person that most effected my evolving aesthetic was my mother’s friend Ben.
Ben lived with his wife Sara in a house just down the road from us. Their kids were grown and had moved out. There was a treasure trove of “MAD Magazines” in his son’s bedroom that I was free to peruse. And, in a Tom Sawyer kind of way, Ben let me help with his errands and chores. He let me paint his patio green! That was fun. And if that wasn’t enough, there was a wood shop in the basement. Or at least something resembling a wood shop. It was a damp, tight space with a few machines and a lot of junk. He worked on a cello case for his daughter-in-law and I puttered around banging nails and cutting wood. I made a birdhouse from a kit.
I remember being very confused about a piece of wood that seemed too long for the back of the birdhouse, since the other three sides were about 4″ shorter. Clearly, they should be the same length; someone messed up. So I cut it off, assuming it was an error. Wrong! The extra length on the back wall was for nailing it to a tree. The lesson? Read the instructions! If you think there is an error and it’s “obvious” that the folks that designed the thing are clueless, despite having spent many more hours thinking the thing over than you ever will, well, it’s probably YOU who are clueless. Read the directions, again. Measure twice, cut once.
Some years later, in high school, I took woodshop. It was typically reserved for boys that made gunracks or bows and arrows. Richard Morgenstern, the teacher and a bit of a role model for me said, “in twenty years, half these kids will be in jail and the other half dead.” Harsh judgement, and fortunately, wrong. It took more like forty years.
But I had other ambitions and made a round pedestal table for my mom’s kitchen. The top was made of a variety of woods, scraps from the shop, including mahogany, maple, poplar and, regrettably, pine. Planed down and glued pseudo-randomly it made what I mistakenly thought of as “butcher’s block.” Mistaken because real butcher’s block is, of course, made of dense hardwoods, very often oak and maple. Certainly not pine so soft it could be dinged with a finger nail.
My mom passed away some years later and I dragged that table up and down the east coast until, well, let’s save that story for another day. Meanwhile, don’t forget that furniture, like all fine things, needs to be maintained and cared for. Be sure to keep your furniture clean and treat your leather upholstery with Fibrenew’s Leather Cleaner and Protector Care Kit, exclusively available only from your Fibrenew technician. Get one “free” by ordering a clean and rejuvenation of a leather covered chair or sofa and mentioning this blog!