I’ve been (figuratively) sitting on a prized piece of lumber that a woodworker gave me in the fall during a trade. It doesn’t have a live edge. The grain isn’t something that sets it apart. It was uneven and covered in dust, dings, dirt, and dents.
My kind of lumber. And it was the story behind the wood that made it even more invaluable to me.
Since it was 8 feet long and I hesitated cutting it, I thought for months about turning it into a reallllly long bench. Then one day, instead of doing what was on my punch list to do, I had an idea and approached it with my saw without thinking twice.
My sister often jokes to my nephew, “See what Aunt Meli is doing? Do the opposite.” She’s not far off. The “measure twice, cut once” and “think before you act” adages are not ones I believe in when I build. Sure, it gets me into trouble at times, but if you know me, I struggle with over-thinking EVERYTHING. It (no joke) takes me an hour to click “post” to Facebook. I will spend half a day reading and re-reading an email before I hit “send.” So I know that if pause too long when I have an idea, I’ll probably talk myself out of it and potentially miss out on a great building project or growth opportunity. Being spontaneous, especially when I work, is a necessity for me.
The prized piece of lumber that I started hacking in half was my friend’s father’s workbench. Long pieces of wood pressed together and held with iron bolts. His dad passed away, and he’d been holding onto it, unable to part with it. A lump formed in my throat when Richard said to me, “Mel, I think you could do something with this. Do you want it?”
So I cut it in half, attached it together, and framed it with a piece of weathered wormy chestnut that was the same gray color as the old workbench. Adding a protective topcoat brought out the beauty of all of the aged pieces.
Paired with a whiskey barrel, the piece makes a perfect high top dining room table. I will sit at it, running my fingers over the nicks in the wood, and wonder if my friend and his dad made some of those dents while working on a project together. If that’s where he learned his stunning woodworking skills. I wonder what was built with the help of this workbench.
I’m not parting with this piece. The workbench? Heavy. The history behind it? Priceless.
Time to wrap up. My dad is coming over for some precious shop time together.