Knowledge + time = taste

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As years go by, you learn more. So, for my woodworking tastes to change drastically over time is only natural.

Time passes, and things change. Once, I didn’t like routing; now I use my routers constantly. My favorite cutting tool used to be the band saw; now it’s the table saw. I used to stain everything I made; now I only stain wood that clearly needs additional color.

And I still own projects from decades ago that I was truly proud of at the time. Today, not so much. A case in point was a TV cabinet I made some four decades ago. Made of alder, I thought it would look great with a fruitwood stain.

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If you’ve ever stained alder, you know it’s very prone to blotching. At the time I didn’t know what blotching was – heck, back then I thought it was a feature, not a drawback – and that it added an interesting texture to the wood. Now, all I see is ugly.

That cabinet only held a smallish TV, so I long ago retired it from entertainment duty, added an internal fold-down shelf, and converted it to a sewing cabinet. That’s a perfect job for it today and it holds both of my wife’s machines. She loves it, but I think it’s hideous.

I’ve been wanting to redo the finish for years, but Sally insists that I don’t. She doesn’t know what blotching is and likes it just fine. And, in truth, despite the blotching it’s still a handsome cabinet and gets the job done.

But it’s interesting to reflect on how much I’ve learned about finishing – and woodworking in general – in those 40 or so years. My skills have certainly improved, as has my knowledge, and along with it my general tastes for how things should look. And while I now think the finish on that cabinet looks awful, it takes nothing away from the 40 years of continuous, useful service we’ve gotten of it. And will continue to get out of it for many years to come despite my change in tastes.

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