During the Woodworking in America Conference, there were two quotes that really stood out from all the bon mots that were hurled.
First up, Toshio Odate: “I speak broke English. I don’t speak bull***t.”
And Roy Underhill: “We had a saying at Colonial Williamsburg: Stop trying to improve the 18th century.”
It was that second quote that was ringing in my head this morning as I nailed some glue blocks into my latest project. I’m finishing up work on the reproduction of the Shaker sitting bench from the White Water community and I was overcome by the urge to improve the 19th century.
This bench is nailed together. There’s a seat plank, two long aprons below it and three legs. This bench, unlike many Shaker benches I’ve seen, lacks diagonal cross-braces. Despite this, the bench has held up well and is still quite sturdy.
But I’m worried about our 21st-century girth. This bench is likely to get used, and the last thing I want is for the thing to collapse in my lifetime.
So this morning I reinforced the legs with some glue blocks. I glued and nailed them between the aprons and the legs. These glue blocks will reinforce the legs and keep them from getting pulled from side to side. Yeah, I know there’s a little bit of a cross-grain problem there. But it’s minimal, and the nails will bend.
And if the Friends of White Water Shaker Village decide they don’t like them, they can remove them easily. I installed the glue blocks with hide glue, so they can be removed. This benefit of hide glue is definitely something from that past that cannot be improved.