Monday, August 8, 2016

In Praise of Bad Furniture

In High School, around 1964, or 65, I took a "shop" class in woodworking.   My teacher was Mr.

Eugene Cline.  Some said Gene spent more time in class working on his own stuff than teaching, but I never noticed because I was working on the ONLY piece of furniture I have ever built.

He had given us 2-3 projects, from which to choose.  These were quite simple and didn't require too much instruction or supervision.  I vaguely recall meeting in a classroom a little, but mostly enjoying a huge workshop filled with all sorts of equipment that are far too dangerous for today's more genteel pupils.

Thus the PROCESS began.  Transforming wood into something useful, and maybe slightly attractive.

I worked and worked on my project- a coffee table,  The design required that I glue two 1x12's together to form the top, and also fasten the slanted table base and legs with glue and nails. Sheetrock screws had NOT become available in that ancient era, so nails it was.  Everything was of cheap, but clear pine.  In fact the whole project couldn't have cost too much, since my family was poor, poor.

The handiwork I did then is superior to what little crafting I do now.  I sanded and sanded the table top using a very good belt sander.  Someone, likely Mr Cline, pointed out that some of us were sanding our projects to the point of leaving the wood far too thin!  Sanding was easy with the belt sander, and we were getting a bit carried away.

The end of the term came, and I stained my table a dark mahogany, and put some sort of slick finish on it.  I don't recall polyurethane being de rigor in those days, so not sure what I put on it.

When the table was all done, and a bit to my surprise, my mother put it in a place of prominance as THE coffee table on the "sun porch"- an old enclosed porch that served as the chief den of an otherwise den-less small house.  It remained at it post, serving faithfully until my Dad, then my Mom passed on to their great reward.

Not too surprisingly none of my brothers wanted it, or hardly any of my folks furniture.  I borrowed a trailer from a friend in Tuscaloosa, and drove over to Canton, GA and retrieved the old table along with quite a few items from my parents' home.

Without so much as a touch-up we put the table to use in our own den, It served there for the last 13 years.  Now Brenda says it will live on in our VA home, if I get it refinished.  And so it goes.

Memories.  G^d changes us.  I am not the guy who made that original coffee table.  I am better is some ways, yet worse in others.  G^d uses sandpaper, and hard knocks to mold us, to make us into better Christians.



  1. I've always loved that coffee table and have good memories of it from her house and yours.

  2. I've always loved that coffee table and have good memories of it from her house and yours.