Friday, August 20, 2010


I was just watching a video on U-tube where someone was SHOWING how the secret compartments they had made worked. To say the least I found this appalling. They are called secrets for a reason! Am I upset because he is giving away trade secrets? Eh - whatever.

What I am upset about is that someone commissioned the piece to be made in good faith in order to hide something. If they choose to tell about their piece  - so be it. But for a furniture maker to be telling how & where & TO WHOM he sold this secret compartment is appalling.

For thousands of years before banks were commonly available it was the furniture makers job to make secret compartments to hide valuables in. Most often if someone could afford to commission a piece of quality - they could also afford your head in a ditch. Hence the tradition of keeping secrets was founded and enforced with a furniture maker until it became a point of swelling pride.

Then some yahoo (who does BEAUTIFUL work BTW) goes and puts it on U-tube for the world to know  not only who to rob...but how to open the compartments and where to find them!.....even worse some other country with cheap labor will steal his ideas (since he showed in great detail how the system worked) and mass produce them at 25% of his cost.
How does someone so talented make such a dumb mistake?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


    We all like receiving trophies. I make a lot of them for customers. But, like many I don't receive many myself.

     Today I received one of the best I have ever been awarded.

     Back up one year. My daughter's friend from High School was working on his Eagle Scout award.
He was to make a podium for the High School wrestling team.  One of the types that has a 1st, 2nd, & 3rd award levels.  He asked if I could provide (donate) the shop for him to build it and offer some advice on construction methods.  To which I agreed (what kind of a schmuck wouldn't?)   He came over a few days later and built the podium to the concept of a kit.  (Part of it he had to instruct younger scouts to finish the project, this is a leadership award after all).

     That was a year ago (+) and I haven't thought about it much since.

     Today he came back around saying he had been accepted to a prestigious college.  Letting it be known that it was in no small part due to his Eagle Scout award as his grades weren't all that good. What he brought with him was a thank you card. Written by his own hand.

And there you have it - MY TROPHY. A hand written thank you.  By a 18yr old boy turning into a fine man.

This card will be hung in my shop to remind me that while cash for a job well done may be nice (And a necessity of life) sometimes there are payments that are worth so much more.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Do you walk on water?

Neither do I. Although it seems many of us believe we do.

Point in Case:. I am a furniture maker working towards my masters ------------ .  I ask A LOT of questions. I ask my friends, family, other professionals around me.  Heck I've even asked strangers!...What do I ask them?  I ask "what do you think of this?" Or that? Or the other...Why?....because the more I learn the more I understand that I haven't learned much, LOL.

We are in a trade that is AT LEAST 7000YRS OLD (that is the age of the earliest known piece of furniture - a stool) and honestly I realize that in my short 42yrs I haven't had TIME to be exposed to everything that has been learned in this trade in the last 3 1/2 millennium.

Back to the case
     I walked into a friends shop the other day (He is a commercial cabinet maker) and he was making a dresser for his soon to be born daughter. He was using drawer fronts that were left over for a job a couple of yrs ago. Now dont get me wrong they were NICE drawer fronts - solid beech and 5 piece - and he had made the dresser to match them. Kinda. What he had done was make a European style cabinet and slapped a face frame on the front of it with a typical 1/4" back with the sides and front going flat strait to the floor. Now this is going to be a very nice Euro/American style cabinet. It is not however going to be a nice dresser.  
  It lacks legs...or ornamentation or supports to the back or quality drawers (He was ordering them made with a butt joint const.)  He put a roman ogee around the tops on 3 sides to 'dress it up' as he put it...but again this would look good sitting in your kitchen as a bank of drawers, but this was a DRESSER for a LITTLE GIRL! it needs a toe kick & a wall to be attached to as he built it.

My problem here is this : He didn't ask any of the 7 guys around with furniture making experience.
     Was he required to? No. Should he have?...Why not? We are all friends & more than willing to help in any way we can...We are all like surrogate dad wannabe's for him and happy about his new born to come. So there would have been no shame or downcast looks at him...We all know what we know & for each of us what we know is different from the next guy.

BUT apparently he believes he walks on water. He among all of us is the only guy to never ask for help, or advice and is insulted if advice is offered freely (So I didn't on this occasion). Its sad for me to think of his little girl growing up with furniture for the next 20yrs that her mother would be proud to have in the kitchen...but will always look out of place in her bedroom - especially that of a little girl.

     If you want to be good at anything - leave the ego at the door.  There is more to learn than you have time to and it never hurts to ask, all you can do is learn.

P.S.: It took me 15yrs to learn this lesson and still sometimes struggle with it.


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