The mystery project - Woodshop News

The mystery project

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My daughter has been on her own for a few years now. As a doting father, I’ve adjusted quite well to that. But I guess today’s the day I really have to let go. She’s getting married this afternoon.

I’ve been woodworking since high school shop, but never became serious about it until a few decades ago, roughly about the same time Courtney was born. The two events were not connected in any way; just coincidence, which connects them all the same. As I did more work and my skills improved, I delighted in making her things.

At around two when she really started becoming mobile, I made her a simple, four-piece stepstool so she could reach the sink. A few years later followed a more elaborate stool. With sides shaped like a big duck with long curved necks serving as carrying handles, she could carry it from the bathroom (its original task was aiding in potty training) to the living room coffee table where she frequently sat with coloring books and toys.

In the ensuing years the projects became more elaborate. Shelves for her books in her bedroom; a desk when homework appeared in larger amounts (I’m sitting at that desk – a bit battered and scarred – right now); a Shaker mantel clock that exhibited some of my best joinery to date; a cedar patio chair I’d originally made as a book project traveled with her from apartment to her current home; the first reproduction spool cabinet I made. She still has many of these things. That potty-training duck is conspicuously absent, though.

Then there were the little things over the years. A swiveling TV stand for her room; some bottle stoppers; occasional boxes. When she became interested in science (she’s now a conservation biologist), I gave her a small item more than a little unusual. I turned a small pedestal from Macassar ebony, with a rare-earth magnet inset at the top. The magnet holds a handful of tiny meteorites from the Diablo Canyon meteor strike in Arizona (known commonly as Meteor Crater National Landmark), that I bought for her on eBay.

I wrote several months ago about a wedding box project I’d made for a friend of my wife’s, and noted intentions of making one for Courtney. We decided, however, not to use one at the wedding. That left me in a quandary. I very much wanted to make her something, but the right thing eluded me. So I elected to wait till I was here in Connecticut for the wedding to decide on something perfect. Courtney and her fiancé’s home is quite historical. The main portion of the house was constructed in the 1700s, and was once home to Nathan Hale’s nephew. (Uncle Nathan’s house is a few miles down the road.) An addition was built in the 1840s, with another section added in the 1980s. Looking around, I know just what they need. Once back home, I’ll get to work on it.

Yeah it’ll be late, but it’ll also be perfect. It’ll still be a woodworking gift for my daughter – just like the many dozens I’ve made for her all her life – but this one will, by its very nature, be quite different.

This will be the first gift for my daughter in her new life.

Till next time,

A.J.

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