I understand now what my mistake was, my big mistake anyway. I had a small amount of white oak sitting in the shop, left over from building the Medieval Hutch Chest last summer, and I wanted to use it up, I also wanted to build the bookstand, and both of those things seemed like serendipity. The result was closer to trying to fit the proverbial round peg into the square hole.
|Pieces of the bookstand assembled together.|
I know about making good stock selection for a piece, but I haven't had a poor choice result in the piece blowing up in my face before. The biggest issue I had was getting this stock machined flat and getting it to stay flat, This resulted in never having an easy time getting the outer frame of the stand to square up and flay down flat. It also equaled what turned into a couple big gaps in my joinery. Sometimes woodworking is not as much forcing the wood to submit to your wishes as much as it's coming to an understanding and partnership with your medium. This is a simple lesson I misplaced along the way with this piece.
|Work on the bookstand in progress|
I think I can blame myself for the bad blood that turned up between myself and this oak. I purposely went out and found it specifically to gain the experience of working with it, and it proved itself to be a difficult task master. It worked beautifully to build the chest I bought it for, but it wore me out. Every time I would read about a smaller project in a woodworking magazine my mind would immediately jump to the oak. "Aha," I would think, "Here's a good way to use that oak up."
|The outer frame of the stand. Such a simple construct that for any of a dozen reasons I couldn't get it to square or lay flat.|
I think it was that eagerness that was my undoing. There's a quote that is attributed to a psychologist named Abraham Maslow that says, "If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail." I guess I fell into this trap. Every woodworker builds up a collection of boards that there is no plan for, they are around to be the right thing at the right time. At one point I had a pretty nice and significant collection. If I wanted to build something I would go down to my shop and sift through the wood, looking for inspiration to strike. the wood would tell me what it wanted to become. When we moved to Maine back in early 2009 I gave my whole collection of odds and ends to a friend. Since then I have had no good way to store a decent quantity of boards, something I now realize I'm going to have to remedy soon, and so I try to stuff the small amount of stock I have into whatever dream I come up with.
I guess the end question is this, "If this piece handed my ass to me once, does that mean I'm done with it?" The answer is -- Of Course Not! I am too stubborn to give up, besides I do have a little bit of stock that has been seasoning a little while and by this late spring it will probably be ready to work, and once I mill some boards from it we'll see but I think I can hear a voice from the pile of black walnut calling out.
|A pile of black walnut I had split this last fall, the logs had weathered in the woods for at least a year before I got my hands on them, They are showing me signs that they'll be ready to work some by late spring / early summer.|
It only says one word