To Last Forever

Some of my pieces are utility furniture that could easily be purchased at an IKEA or Bed, Bath & Beyond.  And those store-bought pieces would serve their purpose just fine for a modest price.  But instead, I choose to make these things by hand.  “Why?”, you ask.  Three reasons, really.

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A very simple wall rack for towels, in situ.

The first reason is probably the most obvious: I enjoy the making.  If I didn’t derive extreme satisfaction from the work of my hands, why bother with the sometimes-arduous act of hand tool woodworking?  And I certainly wouldn’t write about.

The second reason is probably also obvious: I can make to exact specifications.  Store-bought items are rarely just the right size.  For example, I needed a wall rack for towels that could fit behind a bathroom door.  It also had to hold all my bath towels and hand towels and allow the door open all the way.  What is the likelihood I would find a 14″ x 30″ x 7.25″ rack at a store?  And in the same color white as the walls?  Possible, but unlikely.

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Some of the towels are in the laundry or on the hooks/racks.

The third and final reason is less obvious: I can make something that will last.  This is the core of the Christopher Schwarz philosophy of Aesthetic Anarchism.  The work of my hands is far more durable than anything I can buy at a store.  Dovetail and housing joints  in pine are stronger than metal screws and dowels in MDF by orders of magnitude.  Barring catastrophe or relocation, I will never again need to make another behind-the-door hanging cabinet for the spare bathroom.

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Thar be dovetails under that paint.

I do not discount the labor required to produce the piece.  But, in my mind, the labor costs are worth the benefits of making it myself.

JPG

5 comments

  1. Aside from that, the total embodied energy comparison for a lifespan of a unit done by hand or store bought would be interesting. Stuff it! making it by hand is more enjoyable than flat pack assembly so if I can at the time I do as well.

    Gav

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much for sharing. All my handtool pieces to date, I’m new to hand tools, are utility pieces. Along with all your great reasons, I derive great joy from seeing then used in my house everyday. I know, I made it. I’ve left a a lasting piece of the best work I could do and I know it will survive longer than the flat pack stuff and probably me for that matter. I find happiness in that as Im guessing most of us do. Love the blog. Have a great day.
    Chris from Florida

    Liked by 1 person

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