Oak Tree in the Snow

Eichbaum im Schnee

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.

Musings – Passing of a Long-time Workmate, 1978-2013

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.

Image

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!

R.I.P.

– Dave Wilder

Raw Materials

Raw Materials

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.

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.

http://reclaimedwoodblog.com/

http://azurefurniture.myshopify.com/

http://www.labayruigonzalez.com/en/

 

Baulk

Baulk

Our conjecture on the timeline of a baulk of timber

Mature tree in a forest about to be logged   >  Log on a logging truck    Rough-sawn baulk of timber at a sawmill   >  Milled beam cut and drilled, assembled as an under-water part of a large boat dock   >  Long Island Sound flotsam after destruction of boat dock in hurricane or nor’easter   >  Hurricane Sandy debris in our neighbor’s back yard   >  Baulk (2012), a temporary sculpture made from various Hurricane Sandy debris    Baulk Bench 1 (2013), temporary Dockwood bench in our garden   >  Baulk of timber awaiting further Dockwood Furniture creative impulse.

To Answer Your Question More Fully . . .

Our friend Roy asked us last evening, “How did you start making furniture? Was it a hobby?”

Being in a hurry, my reply was brief: “No.”

I’ve always loved design, from fashion to jewelry to books and magazines to furniture, and in the 1960s I worked with my father in his retail business, selling used, vintage, and antique furniture and lighting. From this experience I developed an attitude toward buying furniture – I hated spending money on brand-new stuff. Used was cheap, and often beautifully-designed vintage or antique.

When we came to New York City in 1976, our status was that of starving-artist-and-family. Having no money to furnish our apartment, we took to the streets, where we found a treasure-trove of chairs, small tables, and picture frames put out on the sidewalks on garbage-collection days. Our big dining room table, and all of our bookshelves, we built from lumber purchased at places in our Manhattan neighborhood like the famous AJO Lumber. My son and I would lug the lumber home, often making several trips, and I built the pieces right in our big apartment.

Our design and building technique we labeled “low-tech.” Nails and screws, the rounded corners of a 50s retro style, sanded and polyurethaned to a matte finish. We are still living with all these furnishings 35 and more years later.

When we moved to our current neighborhood, in 1994, we found ourselves in a beautiful beach house, and we needed benches for our deck. It’s then that we started thinking about how to utilize the amazing, rough, pieces of lumber from old destroyed docks that littered our beach front to build furniture.

So, no, it was not a hobby – we needed furniture and we scrounged or created it ourselves, with an aesthetic always in mind, of course.

– Dave Wilder