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Something old, something new for a woodworker to explore


My world is upside down. I’ve got a well-made piece of furniture in my shop and the local hardware store has changed ownership. 

I’m poking fun at my woodworking skills, which I’ll defend as having unlimited potential whenever time permits. But I do have a five-drawer chest, inherited from my grandfather, that I’ve started to restore. It has been rejected, ejected and neglected for more than 20 years, surviving several moves, a teething puppy, and banishment to a damp basement. But I’ve always felt it was worth saving. 

In the light of day, it’s not pretty. It has always been the wrong color – a dark brown finish that gives it a clunky look. I’m guessing the piece is about 75 years old, which barely qualifies as an antique in New England, but it’s built like a tank. 

I’ve always had a thing for taking things apart to see how they are made. This is a basic piece with little decoration, aside from the beauty of the hand-cut dovetails. Other connections were made with nails and huge wood screws. When was the last time you used a nail for fine woodworking? 

It’s got wood runners and to my delight, figured maple buried under that hideous finish. I’ll probably leave a bit of color that accentuates the grain, clear coat and call it done. I’m certainly not aiming for a museum quality restoration. If it’s welcomed back into the house, I’ll be pleased. 

I’m less excited about the hardware store situation. The old store is less than a mile from my house and had local ownership. New ownership is a retail chain with plans to make it more of a building supply house. There aren’t any big box stores nearby, but I fear the convenience of buying a bag of grass seed, light bulbs or gardening stuff may be lost. And the new clerks are wearing ties!

Oh, when will the madness end. 


Incorrect information was included in “Sticky business,” a story on adhesives, on pages 38-40 in the August 2017 printed issue. Choice Brands Adhesives has GreenGuard certification on products with Formica, Hybond, Permagrip and Bondrite trade names. Henkel Corp. does not.  

This article originally appeared in the October 2017 issue.

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