One Tree Woodwork

Custom woodworking and art

Fred and Homer and the challenge

I gave myself a challenge to complete this week between my day  job and the mundane groundhog day grind that has been accompanying my life recently. The challenge was to build a piece of furniture in less than 8 hrs total (spread out over the week) all from material that was considered waste at the job site (free). That means from the birth of the idea (such as it was) to the completion it needed to be built quickly. Why?

I’ll tell you why, when I first started flirting with building furniture 15 years ago I built some stuff that looked like fred Flintstone and Homer Simpson were coming home from the bar late at night in the yaba daba mobile and it collided into a lumber truck. Now that you have a visual, I at the time being somewhat egotistical thought like many young furniture builders that I was on my way to being on the cover of Fine Woodworking or that Sam Maloof was going to call any day now and request my help on a special project.

That is to say until I read (most of) The Soul of a Tree by Nakashima which rocked my world and consequently my confidence too. One of the bad things about being young and having a big ego is you think that you should always  be first and if you can’t be first it’s best not even to play. Although I did continue to play and read and the more I played and the more I read the better I executed. Furniture that was once deemed brilliant and placed in our home with honor was thrown onto the burn pile and replaced with something I felt more refined. It was more refined but as the years went by I noticed I was burning more pieces than I was building because as soon as a piece developed a flaw during the building process I drug it out of the shop in a fit of semi-controlled rage and burned it. Which then evolved into a budding part-time furniture builder that was taking it all way to serious and along the way I had lost something in translation. I started to over think and build things that attempted to look like the studio furniture that I had fallen in love with. Something that could maybe someday be coveted by the yuppies that made Maloof a very rich man.

That’s the problem with taking something you love and trying to turn it into something else. When I first approached building furniture I did so with bliss and ignorance and sure most of it was way out of scale and poorly executed and it disgusted me to have it in the house constantly reminding me of my failures. But what it did posses is (my) creativity which as it turns out might look a little like a drunk driving accident involving Fred and Homer.

So back to the challenge its purpose I suppose was to continue to remind me that I’m no Maloof not even close not even in the same ball park and most likely will never be. That’s ok ,life is short way to short to follow someone else’s path. Because if the yuppies or the studios ever do find me someday  I want it to be honest and raw and not over wrought with pretentious bullshit but built by  someone who has learned much from the masters most of all follow the love first and fuck all the rest.

The bookshelf /media cabinet/ put your stuff in it thing was built with plywood left over after a cabinet job the cedar strips were off cuts from making spindles for a porch and the door is a cast iron clean out door for a masonry fireplace.

The reason that the pics seem slightly smokey is due to my wife’s 5$ find at a garage sale. A little chief smoker loaded with some salmon jerky and alder. Life is good.

If I shall sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, as most appear to do, I’m sure that, for me, there would be nothing left worth living for.
 Henry David Thoreau 

4 comments on “Fred and Homer and the challenge

  1. Crystal Jackson
    May 19, 2012

    I dig it. The detail on the sides is really nice. Is that door old? I didn’t know anything was made in the USA anymore.

    It’s been cool watching your journey as an artist. I’ve never thought anything you made needed to go to the woodpile, but I’ve certainly seen quite an evolution in what you’ve created.

    Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with whittling sculptures out of driftwood…

      May 19, 2012

      No the door is relatively new made by a company named Vestal out of Tennessee they make fireplace accessories. I really dig the statue of liberty on it. Merica Fuck yea!

  2. Tim Joe Comstock
    May 20, 2012

    I typed up, (or started to type up) a wizard essay last night while in the murky ecstasy of drink and the wild beauty of your post but then I was interrupted by foolishness and then I cut my finger.

    The blood on the keyboard put a stop to all that but I will return to it later.

    Meanwhile, let me say that the lead sentence of my wondrous reply (before I started bleeding) was that the most sublime art you will ever create is that Little Chief gazing with sublime solemnity into that Little Chief.

    Nothing created from scraps, no matter how well done, will ever last as long or have a greater impact on Tohner Jackson as the work you do on that little rascal. Do it well and forget Maloof, forget my own favorite dog Krenov, forget yourself and carve a good human Carve a good human with the least tools you have in the tool box .

    I did it by not doing it and now he is twenty-five and hacking away at it out in Los Angeles, a pretty tough and capable little doggie with whom I am well pleased. That is why I am now free to dispose of my erratic wisdom and unwise replies with a calm confidence that I at least did one thing right in my life.

    Meanwhile, (by the way, that was your son in the photo, wasn’t it? Lord I am a crazy ace these days) But meanwhile, I just spent the last thirty years traveling the South demolishing all manner of buildings and also building and trimming all manner of buildings and after much loss and destruction and so on all my favorite things (that are still with me) are things crafted from the good stuff I salvaged and reworked into something useful and worthy of love.

    In my small beach community every saloon and restaurant on the strip has an item of beauty and class traded by me for a bar tab. Seven foot oak doors, a forty foot bar top with antique elbow rail, a hundred year old back bar (salvaged from Greenville Ave in Dallas) or just some brass accoutrements unattainable elsewhere…

    Here is what I am saying. What you are doing with that stuff is a natural thing all of us artisan/hackmasters do: I am suggesting that you do it for public consumption because that is where it will do the most good and where it will garner you the greatest satisfaction.

    But more meanwhile, this cheap band aid (duct tape) is falling off my finger and I am bleeding on the keyboard once again. I have decided to stop writing my stupid Bicycle Booger and also commenting on other websites.

    From now on I am just going to type long comments here and on CryJack’s site until you guys get a restraining order or figure out how to block me. Sorry.

    Oh, and in case I never said it before, your craft work is excellent and far surpasses anything I myself have ever done. Also, the soul revealed in your Blog is not bad either.

    Thanks, tj

      May 20, 2012

      I have read your comment now several times and most likely will read it a few more and you leave me in awe of your ability to write and talent to go straight to the heart of the matter. No bullshit poetry and its a beautiful site to behold. Thanks for leaving some of it on my site I will take good care of it.
      Krenov- “…people think right angles produce harmony,but they don’t.They produce sleep,”


      and yes that big headed boy is mine and the girl was in there to but moving faster than the camera could capture.

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This entry was posted on May 19, 2012 by in Furniture, General woodworking, Inspiration and tagged , , , , .


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Backyard bike ride.
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