The Woodworker cover image for December 2015Welcome

It’s always good going away and, if you can do a bit of work while you’re there then it certainly adds another element to your holiday. I was visiting my brother in New York recently and found myself volunteering for a double window shelf job. I couldn’t
help it and so, after the initial concept and design work, a simple materials list was drawn up and the sourcing of timber began.

It’s fun to have a bit of a mission, and finding things is so much easier these days with everything online. After a brief internet search, we ascertained that there was a Chinese builder’s merchants a few blocks away within easy walking distance. I always make a point of visiting timber yards when I’m abroad and have found that there are as many similarities to ours as you might hope; certainly they’re always familiar enough for the visitor to feel at home.
It’s always good to see variety in the otherwise familiar, and we all play our part in contributing something to our world of woodworking. Identical tasks will inevitably be executed in different ways by different people, and there’s rarely a single and ‘correct’ method of doing something. We all like to think that our way is the best, but, as long as we keep an open mind and work safely, then we stand a good chance of getting the best out of our rewarding craft.
The Chinatown builder’s merchant one was on the basic side but seemed to have a small to medium-sized timber section, and it was while I was investigating some shelved softwood having climbed onto some window frames that I discovered I’d strayed into the ‘forbidden zone’ and was invited to leave by one of the employees. A lot of people seem quite tense in Manhattan, but I did what I could to calm things down a bit, before putting in my order and paying cash ($6.50) on the nail for an 8ft length of 6 × 1 pine, or 1 × 6 as it’s referred to on the Lower East Side.

Clutching my docket, I loitered about in the main yard space until my – pleasingly clear and straight – length of timber arrived. It was a satisfying moment and I feel that next time I’ll make a better job of things, now that I now know how the system works. We made it back home with the board, via one or two stops, and it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that this is as far as my participation in the window shelf job got. I’m only human after all and there are just too many distractions in that particular town.

Mark Cass, Editor