Sunday about 7 p.m. is a good time to give up.
After two full days of sawing, planing, hammering and gluing parts together, the 14 students in this Six-board Chest class at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking laid down their tools. They swept up their shavings. They quietly loaded their chests into their cars.
Some classes end with exultation. Other with exhaustion. This one ended (I hope) with a little of both.
The pace of the class was particularly brutal. I was determined to cram in 400 years of history on the form of the “boarded chest” into the class time. And I wanted us to start with long boards that we had to knock down to size (by hand) and glue up into panels using jointer planes and spring joints.
Oh, and one more thing: There was no predetermined design for the chest we were going to build.
That was a good thing and a bad thing. Bad: Everyone had to think through his design and how it related to his material. This made every step forward a bit of a slog with 14 different answers to 14 questions.
Good: No two chests were the same. Not even close.
In fact, the chest that I built was not even the chest I set out to build when the class commenced on Saturday morning. Instead, I followed the needs of the material and ended up with a chest I am quite happy with. I’ll finish it up when I return home and post photos here on the blog. It’s stripped down, simple and appealing – to me at least.
As the students left – all a bit too weary – I could see that I had pushed things a little too far this time. It probably should have been a three-day class. And we should have used pre-cut stock. And worked to a predetermined design.
And… maybe not. I love to be dead tired when I have earned it.
— Christopher Schwarz