Thursday, December 20, 2012

wood, the answer to anomie...

Yesterday, I went to Nations Hardwoods to pick up 8/4 stock for making a headboard for our guest bedroom. So I'm taking a bit of time away from box making and am furniture crafting once more.

Back panel rabbeted with router
My wife wants a simple design, completely flush on the front side, but when one is working with real wood, even the most simple of designs requires some complexity. For example, the 22 in. wide floating panel at the back... Real wood expands and contracts throughout its life, as it responds to seasonal changes in humidity. So allowing for that expansion and contraction to take place without placing stress on joints is an essential design consideration.  I had planned to miter the top rail to the sides, but asked for a change of plans to allow me to treat each component as an individual piece of wood, but also to eliminate the challenge of cutting large, thick miters on the table saw on large pieces of stock. It is challenge enough with heavy stock to make accurate 90 degree cuts.

Nations Hardwoods (sorry, you won't find it on the internet) is my favorite place to buy hardwoods. It is the only place I can find many of the various species of Arkansas hardwoods I use in making inlay for my small boxes, and it is THE place I go when looking for a special piece of wood. For example, yesterday, I found a piece of figured sugar maple, 15 1/4 in. wide, 2 inches thick, and 8 feet long. It would make a beautiful bench or hall table, or the most exquisite planing bench a craftsman might imagine. I bought it for $100.00 as it was the piece of wood I couldn't resist.

Anomie according to sociologists and psychologists is a state of "normlessness."
"It describes the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and their community, if under unruly scenarios possibly resulting in fragmentation of social identity and rejection of self-regulatory values."
If you give a moment to think of the tragic shooting at Newtown, CT this week, the term anomie  describes the state of mind enabling that form of horror to visit us again and again. It seems that between anomie and the easy acquisition of dangerous weapons, we're screwed. Burying children due to gun violence will be a thing we watch over and over again.

Wood is an antidote to anomie. It connects you with nature. Moving one's hand across its polished surface brings something that may have been lacking even moments before. It soothes. Crafting something from wood informs a person of his or her own creative capacity and control. Making something to share with someone else is one of the cornerstones of human culture.

bed parts with biscuit slots
back panel glued to top rail
Today I awakened to gently falling snow.
Unlike our neighbors to the north, we won't get quite enough of it.

After the glue sets, final sanding and finish come next

 But to work in a wood shop warmed with a wood stove burning cut-offs and scraps, also by the motions of my own body and the warmth of my emotions as I go through the process of making a an object of useful beauty is a thing that one must experience in order to truly understand.

Make, fix and create...

No comments:

Post a Comment