One of the quirks of writing for a woodworking magazine comes when you build a reproduction of a famous piece of furniture, such as Stickley’s #334 Morris chair. One of the typical lines in the story will discuss the original’s cash value. Something like, “Pieces such as this have fetched $5,000 at Christie’s and Sotheby’s.”
It’s a subtle way to equate monetary value with beauty. I’m guilty of teeing up that unfair equation myself. And I’m the first to tell you it’s bull-pucky.
Today as I was making the six legs for the staked table above I said out loud: “Who would pay for this thing?” I shook my head and finished shaping the tenon.
The answer to the question is actually a key point about this sort of furniture: Nobody has to buy it because I think anyone – anyone – can make it. It’s basically worthless. Or, to twist the meaning of a second word, priceless.
Though the “Furniture of Necessity” will explore lost forms of furniture, its other important job is to explain techniques of making furniture you might not have considered before.
These methods are ridiculously simple (can you sharpen a pencil?), fast and require fewer tools than you suspect. The photo above is after only four hours of shop time with a band saw, jointer plane, drawknife and tapered tenon cutter. Another four hours, and the table will be finished, easy.
Then it will be ready to roll into the forest for a banana fight.
— Christopher Schwarz