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Making your mark

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Do you sign your work? I nearly always do, but not always in the way you might think.

At some point in almost every project I make, I sign it. I’m not really sure why, but I think it’s because it gives me one more way to make something, especially something I’ve designed myself, a bit more personal to me. Something that marks it as being mine for all time.

You’ll note above that I said almost every project. If a piece is destined to be temporary, I don’t sign it. I never sign or mark one-time-only jigs, for example. The birdhouse book I’m wrapping up has nearly 30 houses, far more than I can ever use or give away, so some of them I dismantled after all photography was done and reused the stock for different houses.

But for anything that is a permanent, finished work, I have my mark on it somewhere. Sometimes I sign my full name or just initial and date it in a place easily referenced, like the back of a clock or underside of a box. I do that most often when the item is a gift for someone I know. 

Other times it’s hidden and likely never to be seen by anyone, such as underneath felt flocking on a box bottom or even inside a glued-up joint – I write something on every tenon I make before gluing it into its mortise. Years ago when I made a floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcase/desk unit the full length of a wall in a previous home, I first put wood paneling up on the drywall as backing. Before that, I wrote on the wall a full description of the project and the circumstances – we lived in Mobile, Ala., at the time, and my historical note, if I remember correctly, references hurricane Frederick, which had hit us the month before I started the project.

Other times, my mark is literally that: just a mark. A chisel mark or something similar that has nothing to do with the joinery or construction, but it’s a distinctive mark that I’ll always recognize as being my final touch of the piece (if I can remember where I put it). In fact, I don’t consider a piece done until my name, initials or mark is on it somewhere.

So, how about you? How, where – and most importantly – why do you make your mark?

Till next time,


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