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:
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
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?
"Mine was in the Pacific. How old is your Dad?"
"Mine too. Born in 1920?"
"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
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