In Chris Schwarz Blog, Raw Materials

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On Halloween night in 1993 I went to the lumberyard in search of wood to build a sitting bench for our kitchen in Lexington, Ky. Like any good woodworker, I sorted through the entire pile of 1 x 12s to find boards that were straight, flat and looked good.

I was frustrated that night because I couldn’t find wood that looked right. It was all too boring, clear and knot-free. Yes, that sentence is correct. There is something about knots that I’ve always liked.

Stare at them long enough and you’ll realize (without the assistance of illegal substances) they look like a tree trapped inside a tree. They are the important intersection between branch and bole. And knots point out that wood is not just a homogenous and bland substance.

Of course, they can be quite ugly and distracting as well.

So I struggle with my knot fetish. One of my favorite places to put them is in drawer bottoms and in cabinet backs. For the most part, they are then hidden by the underwear, socks and books held by the project. But every once is a while, you’ll pull out just the right book and the knot will be staring at you, like an unlidded eye.

This dry sink project features a few well-placed knots. Sure, there are some in the back, but there are also two small ones in the left side of the cabinet. One looks like a falling comet to me.

The top has two massive knots that were a real challenge to plane without tearing things out. And though they’re quite visible now, I know that whatever is placed on the top of this dry sink will keep them obscured until just the right moment.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 4 comments
  • Christopher Schwarz

    David,

    That’s our shop at the magazine. Four benches for four woodworkers.

    Chris

  • David Cockey

    Is that a three bench shop? Or two benches and a table?

  • David Cockey

    Knots are like other delicacies – wonderful in the right quantity but too overindulge and they become unappetizing.

  • Ron Boe

    Here here! I don’t go to quite that extreme – not saying you are extreme; but maybe you are :^) Small tight knots and very interesting figure grab me. Why use wood if you want perfect grain? Use that printed stuff over particle board then. Or MDF.

    Wood has character – accent it!

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