Sending Our Work Into the World

As both of my daughters pack for college, preparing to empty the nest, I’ve been busy preparing for my next project. As I take measurements, lay out parts, and cut joints, it strikes me how much building projects in our shops is akin to raising children in our homes.

As we do with our children, we can’t help but imbue our projects with a certain amount of ourselves. We strive to incorporate beauty, integrity, strength, and stability into our tables and chairs and cabinetry. Wielding the tools we have, we make the best decisions we can, some based on experience, others driven by gut instinct. Along the way, of course, things don’t always go smoothly. Wood often misbehaves, requiring patience and finesse on our parts to make things come together (since force seldom works). And we certainly make our share of mistakes that we just have to do our best to repair. But we persevere, hoping our building techniques are sound and that our work will prove itself worthwhile in the world.

In this issue, you’ll find plenty of projects to parent from a mere notion to a piece with purpose. Take the Murphy bed —a perfect solution for a family in flux. One minute, it’s an office, and the next it’s a place for visiting college kids to crash. Count the minutes until the kids leave again with a Craftsman-style wall-hung clock. Its design features decorative coves and steep bevels cut at the table saw. Learn other valuable techniques and have fun while doing it with the fridge magnet project, which is also a great starter for fledgling turners. For younger kids who need a boost, build the simple Shaker-inspired step stool.

As for me, it’s time to relinquish the two projects I’m most proud of. As my daughters set out into the world, I can only hope that my best work will thrive and do good work of its own.

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