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Time tested

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Man, another year coming to an end. Getting older, that mirror is showing a lot of wrinkles. Did I say wrinkles? I meant character lines.

Yeah, this woodworker is getting lots of character lines, but if I look back on some of my older work I see some character lines in them, too. Of course, those lines are really leftover milling marks that I didn’t adequately sand out, but that was a long time ago.

The piece in question is a timepiece (appropriately enough); a clock that I made, at a rough guess, at least 25 years ago. It’s in the old Regulator style, and I had to send away for the glass with the correct “Regulator” decal. Clocks are among my favorite projects and I’ve made too many to count since that Regulator, but that was the first one I ever made. It was also one of my earlier large-scale projects in general, for that matter. I did a pretty good job on it if I say so myself – it wouldn’t be hanging in my living room if I hadn’t – but I’ve gotten a lot better.

For one thing, the hinge mortises are a bit rough; serviceable, but rough. And then there are those milling marks. I had given the parts and the finished oak case what I thought, at the time, was a good sanding, but the moment I applied stain I could see those milling marks. Not too bad, and since I didn’t know much they didn’t bother me then. Over the years, though, they’ve nagged at me, much like the incorrect screws in another reproduction piece I discussed a few weeks ago in “Picky, picky, picky.”

But I’ve grown to like those milling marks, uh, I mean character lines in that clock. For one thing, I’ve seen genuine antique Regulators of the same style, and guess what? They weren’t so fussy about milling marks back then, either. For another, that clock is one of my earlier big projects, and I was pleased enough with it to pursue more complicated projects and, in the process, learn a lot more about woodworking.

In other words, no regrets about them. They’re not wrinkles, after all, that mirror the passage of time. Unlike those in the mirror, they mark a moment of youth.

I’m OK with that.



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