Planet Haolewood

A toolbox, a change of underwear, and a surfboard.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Curvy Lines

Finish carpentry is all about precision. We like straight lines and when we make curves they are precisely calculated like those you’d find in an archway. But the other day at Mr. Money’s house I installed a countertop with one edge that had been left natural. I cut three of the sides exactly square to fit inside a cabinet but the forth side was left more or less in the shape of the tree from which the board had been cut. It turned out the “naturally shaped” side was too irregular and I would have to cut it, too. But of course I couldn’t cut it in a straight line or even an arc. I had to cut it irregularly. That sort of stumped me. It was like asking a firefighter to burn down a building. It’s my job to make things look straight and now I was being asked to make sure my cut didn’t look straight.

I asked the interior designer how he wanted it to look. He said it should look like a piece of wood that has been sitting outside for 100 years and told me to scrape it with a wire brush after I cut it so it would look distressed. I hesitantly drew a line that more or less followed the original curvy edge. The countertop was made up of two pieces of Indonesian teak 14” wide and 2” thick. It had arrived recently in a shipping container full of furniture from that exotic land. Wood like that is not easy to come by on Kauai or anywhere else for that matter, so it was important not to mess it up. I set my saw at an arbitrarily chosen angle and cut away. Then I worked on it with a power planer followed by a belt sander, an orbital sander and finally I hand sanded it to take away the marks left by power tools (which don’t look very natural).

Everyone seemed pleased with the results. Most of what I do is more like a math problem than an art project. There may be different ways of getting there but there is only one “right answer.” But as I contemplated finished product I wondered at how I probably could have cut it a number of different ways and it still would have “looked right.”


At 9/15/2008, Blogger Matt said...

Looks nice! Whenever I go visit my folks in Cambria we always get to see some new piece of art that the carpenter they use has created for their house. Some of it is really amazing and very creative - hopefully you'll get a chance to do more of that in the future if you like it.

At 10/15/2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Update! Update! We want an update. might you not have photos you want to show us? Your readers are eagerly awaiting your next post.


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