Tag Archives: woodworking/carpentry

Work That Is Not True to Itself

If you know anything about me or what I do, you’ll know why I love this quote (taken from Dorothy Sayer’s essay “Why Work”). Many thanks to a friend from church for sharing it with me:

The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables. Church by all means, and decent forms of amusement, certainly – but what use is all that if in the very centre of his life and occupation he is insulting God with bad carpentry? No crooked table-legs or ill-fitting drawers ever, I dare swear, came out of the carpenter’s shop at Nazareth. Nor, if they did, could anyone believe that they were made by the same hand that made heaven and earth. No piety in the worker will compensate for work that is not true to itself; for any work that is untrue to its own technique is a living lie.

Pottery Barn’s Large Collector Shelf: Knock-Off Style

Sometimes it’s good for an aspiring writer to do something with his hands other than sling ink all over the place. So…

For my first serious excursion into woodworking and carpentry – skills which I hope to pursue – I wanted a project that was fairly straightforward, yet not too easy.

Enter Pottery Barn’s Large Collector Shelf (top, above photo). This slick piece of wall-mounted decor is priced at $62.00 on the PB website. Cool, but rather on the expensive side, if you ask me.

Which is why we decided to make one instead.

My cut list included two 1×6 @ 36″ (back/bottom), two 1×6 @ 9″ (sides), and two 1×2 @ 37 1/2″ (ledge/rail). The primary tools I used in building the shelf were pretty basic: a cordless drill, handsaw, clamps, measuring tape, wood glue, a sanding block, wood putty, and a handful of screws.  Of course, it was nice to have Dad’s Skil-saw and dremmel tool on hand, too.

After the pieces were measured and cut to length, pilot holes were drilled and the screws put in (along with some wood glue and putty). Then I used the dremmel tool and some sandpaper to soften the edges and even things up a bit. The half-finished result was…

Two coats of fresh white paint resulted in…

Enter Pottery Barn’s Large Collector Shelf: Knock-Off Style. Total cost? $10.00 worth of materials and 4 hrs. of my time (plus multiple splinters). Not bad. Not bad at all.

I’m not sure which project is up next, but Dad just informed me that he wants a tie-rack. I’ll take it as a hint.