Oxymoron

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Word games are fun, especially when you can play them with our favorite endeavor, woodworking.

I think I may have mentioned here that I’m a big George Carlin fan. Back in my days as editor at Woodshop News, every year I put a new George Carlin calendar atop the file cabinet at the entrance to my cubicle. And every day people would come by my cubicle to say hi, then chuckle at whatever joke or one-liner was displayed on the calendar for that day. I know they weren’t coming just to say hi to me, but rather to see the calendar. They didn’t fool me.

Carlin is famous for word games, in fact much of his humor is based on it. Well, I still get a new Carlin calendar every year, and the entry for last Thursday was a short list of some of his favorite oxymorons. Among them was one that especially hit home: genuine veneer.

Naturally, when woodworkers think of veneer, we think of a beautiful surface treatment of exotic or other wood species on an attractive piece of furniture. Of course, the root of the word has negative connotations in that a veneer hides or disguises something behind a deceptively pleasant or impressive appearance. To that end, “genuine veneer” is a contradictory term. However, after decades – centuries, really – of use, it’s the woodworking meaning that is most prominent. Not only is genuine veneer a positive thing today, it’s not contradictory at all.

What then, of “authentic reproduction?” In earlier times, the term could be synonymous with “fake.” Today, however, the label describes an item, especially furniture, that has been painstakingly crafted to be exactly like an original piece. A “true simulation,” if you will.

As I continue work on my Civil War project book, I’m making one authentic reproduction after another. I’ve researched the projects carefully, and I’m confident that they are as true to the originals as possible. (I suppose I should include a Certificate of Authenticity to assuage any doubts of my potential readers; for if you have one of those, then it MUST be true.)

The bottom line is that the whole terminology comes full circle. Since I’m crafting authentic reproductions, that makes me a maker of authentic reproductions. Which I suppose, in turn, makes me oxymoronic.

Won’t be the first time that word has been used to describe me. Or, at least, part of the word.

Till next time,

A.J.

Don’t forget I’m looking for input from any of you who’ve been to IWF in Atlanta, for an upcoming article in Woodshop News. What’s your best suggestion for someone attending the show? What worked well for you, and helped you cover the most ground in the least time? What are your tips for making the show fun? What is the number one not-to-be-missed aspect of IWF? E-mail ideas and suggestions to me at IWFtips@yahoo.com, along with your name and shop location (city and state), and I’ll include the best ones in my article.

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