We’re into the deep winter for the moment. This grants us, like out forebearers, time to think about various projects to beautify our stuff. I’ve noticed quite a few things floating around the digital ether that are woodworking project ideas as people dream of the warmer summer months when reenactment and re-creation move out of doors. While these ideas dance behind your snow-blind eyes, here’s a few things to consider to make the next thing the next better thing:
Choose your wood carefully. Often I am cited for not having a high opinion of off-the-rack 2by and 1by material at the home center. I have good reason for this, but that’s for a different post. Many might find that sourcing to be their best option. So, when you go to the big-box to buy wood, pick out the lumber carefully and consider where it will fit in to your project. 2by Spruce/Pine/Fir (SPF) will still be wet. Look at the rings and consider how the wood will move once it is cut and dries further. It will save a lot of heartache to learn how to determine which boards to use for which parts of your projects. In some cases you can use this to your advantage. In others… well, gluing up a wide table top out of 2×12 to have it turn into a potato chip on you is very disheartening.
Consider the joinery techniques in both what is historically correct and in your skill set. If something is out of your skillset, get yourself to Carnegie Hall (practice man, practice). Don’t rely on what is “easy,” especially if it is not correct for the style you are producing, or if it actively detracts from the Utility, Durability, or Beauty of the piece.
Paint your navels. A lot of the furniture we have extant is bare wood. This is usually either from degredation of the original finish or because Victorian Era conservators thought better to make the museum pieces match up with their contemporary aesthetics, rather than maintain the original appearance. Quite a few extants we have still exhibit traces of vibrant painting schemes and similarly applied decoration. While we might think “old timey” is Victorian in appearance, it is not quite accurate for Pre-17th century furniture.
Don’t do the same gag, do the next gag. Unless someone is looking to pay you to do the same thing again, look at a previous attempt at a project and figure out how you can take what you learned with the previous example and improve it. Usually you may find that in moving toward a more historical methodology, you see why certain parts were made certain ways, and those ways really were highly refined.