Eichbaum im Schnee, painting by Caspar David Friedrich (1829), courtesy of the blog “Design Is Fine. History Is Mine,” and the Nationalgalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin.
A very respectful commemoration of an oak tree near the end of a long, hard, but beautiful life.
– Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac
My electric drill died. After 35 years of faithful service, it finally gave up the ghost, while grinding the surface oxidation from a seat plank for Dockwood Bench 3. There was a “clang,” and it froze. Through the air vent I could see the cooling fan blades – not good. I took it apart and found that the fan had broken in half. I got the two pieces out, spun the armature, put it back together, but it was still frozen, lifeless.
One expects tools to last a lifetime, if they’re of decent quality. I’m still using the same claw hammer, scrapers, chisels, and files I started with all those years ago when we came to New York. (My original tools, inherited from my father, remain in California, being used to this day by my brother, I believe. Many of those tools were inherited from his father.)
Tools, after long use, seem to fit to one’s hand, and become a comfortable extension of one’s arm, in an intimate connection between one and the material being worked with. There’s satisfaction in learning, after years of their use, all their idiosyncrasies, and the nuances of the skill of using them to their best capability.
So I regret the passing of my old, faithful, drill. I’ll purchase a new one, but really wonder if it’ll last the way my old one did!
– Dave Wilder
Does this look like a pile of scrap wood to be thrown into a dumpster? No! They’re the components of our next Dockwood bench – in case you wondered what we start out with. It’s all flotsam from destroyed or damaged boat docks that has washed up on our beach. You can tell that this material has been at the mercy of nature for many, many years.
Drawing – Dave Wilder (1963)
We recently received a blast from our California past via the blog of reclaimed-wood maven Greg Cater. His site features some really wonderful uses for reclaimed wood, as well as the stories of some people who are committed to saving these materials, whether standing deadwood or lumber from disused ranches, etc., for use by craftsmen. Since we hail from California originally (though we haven’t lived there since 1972!), it was really gratifying to see what’s being done out there.
So we’re finding there are folks doing work that’s kindred to what we are doing everywhere from the West Coast, to the guys using “beetle-kill” pine at Azure Furniture in Colorado, to us on the East Coast, to the friendly people at Labayru i Gonzalez Furniture in Barcelona, Spain, with their wonderfully elegant, simple re-use of antique oak. Gratifying.