November 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

Ikea and their ilk, in their practice of keeping the particle board manufacturers in business and the sidewalks blocked with almost once-useful hunks of computer workstation, may have stuck such pursuits out behind the shed, but the pleasures of building-your-own will never fade. Anyone who has ever taken a shop class from an instructor who could thump you in the chest with his shortened index finger for not wearing eye protection will attest to the pride that may be taken in the conversion of a pile of pine into a shiny new shelving unit or a do-it-yourself doghouse. My dad taught me how to do many things and sanding was one of them. Instrumental, however, in my handyman education, were the stacks of Popular Mechanix and other DIY materials that accumulated around the basement.

After 30 years of apartment dwelling it is a relief to be in our new home, hanging pegboard downstairs and installing shelves in the closets with my own two hands (all fingers still intact, as of this writing). Every weekend I look down the stairs wistfully at the basement clutter, mentally mapping the solid teak rec room and the mud room with a view. And the shop: a good, solid workbench with a mounted vise. A table saw. Pegboard everywhere, with hanging tools silhouetted in red. Mini floods dousing the area in pure and clarifying light. And I, in shop glasses, Red Wings, and well-worn Pendleton, humming along with the radio executing one masterpiece of mid-century handcrafted genius after another, as found in the pages of Workbench, 35 cents / March-April / 1968.



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