Picky, picky, picky

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I recently noticed something about a project I made more than a decade ago that bothered me. After eating at me for a week, it bugged me enough I finally had to change it.

Generally speaking, I’m a go-with-the-flow kind of guy and not really all that picky. For some things, yeah, I can be somewhat obstinate. I refuse to use any brand of ketchup but Heinz, for example, and underwear should always be folded lengthwise, not crosswise. But those are perfectly normal things on which I’m sure you agree. Anyway, I’ve always felt I could be flexible with just about anything else. Now, hold that thought.

My reproductions of Civil War furniture and other items are as perfectly accurate and period-correct as I can make them. But if something I need simply isn’t available – a material, say, or an exact piece of hardware – I either make my own or make do with an acceptable modern substitute. That’s the kind of flexibility I was talking about above. Again, hold that thought.

About 25 years ago I made a reproduction oak icebox, and over the ensuing years I’ve designed and built a couple other pieces in the same style of that icebox – an end table, a storage trunk, a sideboard – all of which reside in our kitchen/dining area. These pieces mimic those old iceboxes exactly, and I sent away for reproduction brass hinges, latches and other hardware.

Now, about a week ago Sally and I are playing cards at the kitchen table, and while I’m staring off into space waiting for her to take her turn my gaze settled on that sideboard. And as I’m staring at it, it hit me for the first time that the reproduction brass hardware I bought came with Phillips screws, which I used without giving it a thought. And for the first time, it hit me: That’s just wrong. Those brass screws should be slotted.

Well, so what, right? These pieces aren’t being judged, I’ve got nothing to prove with them, nobody will ever notice, I didn’t make them for a published project that would be under scrutiny, and they’ve served us well for years. In the case of that original icebox I made, nearly a quarter century.

So, here I am a week later and those screws bothered me so much that I went out and bought brass slotted screws, and replaced every last one of them.

An exercise in obsessive-compulsive behavior? Absolutely.

Am I a lot happier now? You bet.

A.J.

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