The Woodworker cover image for january 2015Welcome

Years ago, when I was on the antiques, I was helping a dealer to load a large break-front bookcase into a Luton van when he happened to remark – between breathless gasps – that if he ever had his time again, he’d be a dealer in watches and jewellery. ‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘just put the stuff in your pocket. The most you’d have to carry around would be a briefcase.’ True, but then the grass is always greener… and there are bound to be drawbacks to that particular trade, drawbacks like armed robberies and gold fever, so maybe the odd bit of backache isn’t such a hardship after all.

Straight and narrow
I generally carry my furniture around in pieces, sometimes 8 x 4ft board-sized ones. I’ve just finished a very tall cupboard in a place over my way. Housing a variety of
electricity distribution boards, telephone terminals, cable TV boxes, routers and all sorts, it reaches up to the ceiling and is essentially a tall narrow cupboard on top of a shorter one. I’m very pleased with it. Its softwood panelled doors and mouldings all blend in nicely, and it’s brought instant order and tidiness to the hall.

Raindrops keep falling
The job itself was not without incident, and I discovered yet another way to slip up. My time on site seemed to coincide with the height of the recent Sussex monsoon season, and working outside was nearly always out of the question. As I didn’t want to fill the freshly decorated house with sawdust, I left the chopsaw behind in the workshop. The fact that it weighs about 25kg may have had something to do with my decision, but the bottom line was I would cut all my moulding mitres by hand, just like the old days.

The wrong angle
Now this is hardly a revolutionary step, but anyone who has cut dadoes and cornices on a 22.5° mitre knows the pitfalls. Things were going very well, and I was just offering up the last piece of dado when I realised I’d set it all upside down, and there was no way it would match the existing ones. With a resigned sigh I pulled it all off and started again. So it is with carpentry sometimes. You do what you think is some great work, only to have it all go pear-shaped and then you’re back to square one. The joke – and I’m sure it’s not just me – is there always seems to be a new version of an old mistake just round the corner, waiting to trip you up and start you thinking of an easier way of making a living. The thing is, would you be any happier without woodwork? I think not.