A Whole Lot of Wood Shavings Going On


Last week was marlin week. Any time I catch a wonderful sport fish like a marlin, the event merits an interruption in my blog schedule. This week, we’re back to the creation of my new desk. As you can see, it’s a messy process.

0317161522 (1)The woodworker, Scott, called to say that he had finished the joinery. He has all the legs ready, and he’s shaving them from square to round before shaping them into their final profile. I was his excuse to buy a lathe (yes, Ranchman is jealous), and he demonstrated it today. It reminded me of the edit process, in which I start with something I think is the basis for a good manuscript and then whittle madly to make the story lean and mean.

As I watched Scott, I recognized a fine touch. He braced his body to ensure that he didn’t take off too 0317161524amuch, or gouge into what would become the leg on a contemporary Biedermeier piece. If you look closely at the photo to the right, you see the metal slide in which his left forefinger moves to ensure that he applies even pressure as he glides his tool down the wood. It’s almost as if he’s dancing carefully, the machinery his partner. And in a way, since human and machine are creating this desk, they are partners in the project.

The boards for the skirt are set aside on a trolley, as are the boards for the top. The finished piece is kind of large, so he’ll assemble it after the parts are ready. I know he’s working this weekend, and I’ll resist the urge to stop by the shop to spy. (NOT!)

0317161521He’s inserted blanks in the top of each leg, where pieces of the writing surface will fit. The blanks will stay in place until the legs are perfect. If he tries to put the legs on the lathe without the blanks, the slots in the wood might burr, and he’d be starting all over again.

It’s exciting to watch this project unfold, just as it’s exciting to be drafting the next manuscript. I’m more than 10 percent finished, and if I can maintain this meticulous pace, I’ll have a complete draft in May. Most of this manuscript will be written at my new desk, the first NEW desk and commissioned piece of furniture I’ve ever owned.

I’m up to the challenge!

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