My family benefits from the hours I pour into the shop, or at least that is the consensus of the public that surrounds them. Unfortunately, the story isn’t as deep and beautiful as it seems.
The mother of a woodworker cherishes a stick with a bow and a drawing on it representing a raincheck for a rocking chair.
The sister gets a coffee table that quickly becomes useless in storage since her two active boys prefer to use it as a springboard overhanging an imaginary pool (oak floor with fireplace hearth).
The wife of a woodworker will one day get a bed that doesn’t need a bedskirt and a trunk to hide the ugly commercial metal frame that was only going to be in place for two days until the sleigh bed was built.
The daughter of a woodworker gets the prize. The daughter has quickly become the queen of the family and hasn’t even reached her second year at being a daughter. No surprise to anyone. The woodworker has taken a fancy to building usable items for his daughter. This is mainly influenced by the demanding..I mean demand…of his intelligent wife.
Speaking of demand, the woodworker has seen a demand for the items he has built his daughter. This is highly influenced by the woodworker’s wife being extremely educated in early childhood development and knowing just what a child needs.
Pint-sized chairs, tables, beds, and stools…who wouldn’t see a miniature version of something and not think of it as being cute and perfectly practical for the child?
This is where Version 1.0 kicks in. My wife tells me that a stool is badly needed. A stool is needed in the kitchen so Sydney can access her play kitchen with ease. A stool is needed in the bathroom so we can give Sydney a bath, and so she can brush her teeth/fix her hair (when she finally decides to grow some hair!). A stool is needed in every room.
I built a stool that I believed would fit the bill. Height seemed right. Width seemed right in even the small rooms. Perfect I thought. Then it was put to use and the imperfections immediately rose to the surface. Wrong ratio of inset of the leg to the length of the top. Couple this and the fact that no floor in our circa 1945 house is level and a recipe for a rocking stool has been made.
How to combat that? Simple! Keep the stool and live in constant fear while building and selling what would be the replacements! The corrected version, Version 2.0, only graces the interior of our house when I’m packing it up for shipment to a customer. On the rare occasion, someone will feel sympathy for my wife and daughter and buy a stool from me just to gift it to my wife so she no longer has to worry about Sydney toppling off of her teetering top-heavy stool.
The corrected version starts out basic. A stool needs to be stout, but not tank-like. A wide board with a relief cut in it will be much more stable than two 3″ x 3″ oak legs. An angle introduced to the legs will help exponentially with the stability. A stretcher between the wide board legs will help ease the load as its transferred down to the floor.
Finish nails and Titebond glue would work great, but why not use a little joinery and hide glue?
Joinery. Teach a child the way things work! Let me phrase that differently…Teach a child the way things used to work and should work but don’t because the old was replaced with cheap plastic thoughtless items that cannot be repaired. Enhance the joinery with contrasting woods so the child can understand what is happening when the stool is used.
Hide glue. Repairable. In 100 years when the stool finally comes loose at the joints, just heat the hide glue up, realign everything, add a bit more hide glue, and the stool will serve many more generations to come.
Give a little thought into what you purchase for the wee ones. When given the ability, they will educate themselves. Further their education by teaching them how things are made. Teach them why they are made that way. Show them the impractical items. Teach them why they are impractical, but not by purchase and use!
Note: Don’t ask DOW where to get Hide Glue. They may not understand that a glue that has been in existence for eternity is better than any formula they can muster up.