Father's Day

I took my Dad out for Father's day yesterday; lunch and a haircut. He's had a tough time of it the last year or two; the difficulties of age have been accelerating. It took him a while to button his shirt, but I prefer that he does what he can. I passed a minute or two examining the desk in my old bedroom. He built it when I was a kid; going on 50 years ago, I'll bet.
I had imagined that he had designed the desk himself. But some years ago he told me that he never felt he had the talent to do that; his occasional projects were from plans.
The desks (he made on for my sister also) had no legs or cabinets underneath; they hung from the wall instead on keyhole brackets. They have yet to fall down.
Here's a quick sketch from memory:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/gdguarino/14437235334/
It has a plywood top covered in white formica. Most of the rest of the desk is oak. I looked inside the drawers to see the construction. It was all 3/4" oak except for the bottom, which was 1/4" ply. My Dad had once seen a pile of very usable size oak scraps at a shop that made stairs. The owner said he could take as much as he liked.
We had a small open trailer back then ... so... :)
To begin with, the drawers had no false fronts. The front had two dado grooves in it to accept the two sides. The sides each had one dado to accept the back. And all four sides had a 1/4" groove for the bottom. I guess that's supposed to be pretty substandard construction for a drawer, but I don't remember being any more gentle than necessary with them throughout my formative years and they are still intact.
My Dad was a lawyer and worked (to a reduced degree) until his late eighties. He never took to electrical, plumbing or automotive work, but he made a number of woodworking projects, using a radial arm saw as his primary tool. He only "taught" me a few direct woodworking lessons, but I can credit him for my recent adoption of the hobby on two counts: firstly, he made woodworking seem, well, *possible*. It's a good thing for kids to see that things are possible, not just the province of exotic specialists who visit the house. And he passed on an appreciation for people who can do things well, especially including people who worked with their hands.
Looking at his work now, I realize that he was probably working stuff out as he went along, much like I'm doing now, except without the (considerable) help that I get from Internet sources. I can't exactly describe what I find so interesting about that; maybe after I let it set in awhile. I think it may have to do with more than just woodworking though.
There was another elderly gent in the next chair at the barbershop. As it turned out, I was siting next to that fellow's daughter. We got to talking. She asked:
"Was your Dad in WWII?
"Yes. Italy"
"Mine was in the Pacific. How old is your Dad?"
"93"
"Mine too. Born in 1920?"
"Yes, December"
"Really, my Dad was born on December 13th"
I paused. This old gent was born on the very same day as my Dad. What an odd coincidence.
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On 6/16/2014 3:09 PM, Greg Guarino wrote:

Great post, Greg. Thank you very much for doing so, it was a real treat to read.
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On 6/17/2014 10:04 AM, Swingman wrote:

Another construction tidbit:
There were no drawer slides, at least not of the ball-bearing, metal, store-bought variety. On another project of his, a shelf with two drawers underneath, he used metal angle for "runners" that ran in 1/4" grooves in the sides of the drawers. On the desks, although I didn't look at it on Sunday, I believe there may have been wooden runners attached to the desk frames and mating cleats on the drawers.
As I look at those details, I feel a connection to my Dad. It's common as a kid to think your parents had somehow come fully-equipped to do the things they needed to do. But seeing the little jury-rigged parts of his projects, I can imagine him puzzling over them the way I do now.
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wrote:

I envy you. The father I never knew would have been 98 next month if he'd survived near St. Lo in August of 1944. He'd seen me shortly before he left for England - part of the fill-in troops after D-Day. I have a few pictures and some stories from his sisters.
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On 6/17/2014 5:49 PM, snipped-for-privacy@wizardanswers.com wrote:

things get tough now.
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On Tue, 17 Jun 2014 13:35:42 -0400, Greg Guarino wrote:

I've built stuff with drawers for the shop, for the house, and for customers, In no case did I use drawer slides. I used hard maple for the sides of the frames between drawers and hard maple for the sides of the drawers. I'll be long gone by the time either wears enough to be a problem.
In our recent move I had to convert half the garage to a shop. I threw together some work surfaces from 2x2s. 2x4s, and plywood and put in some trays on (hang my head in shane) metal dividers. The only other time I ever used them was to mount a traverser on a model railroad :-).
By not using them I also gain an inch in width :-).
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