In End Grain

We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. However, this does not impact our recommendations.

Passing up gold for a treasure with more lasting value.

The holidays are a time for visiting and catching up. While visiting my parents one Thanksgiving, my mother handed me an envelope.

I could tell at first glance that it was old. The acid in the paper had turned the envelope to a coffee-brown color.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Just open it,” my mother replied in a low voice.

I turned the envelope over in my hands once or twice, then opened it up. There was only one item inside, also brown with age.

What I found was a savings bond – a bond purchased the same year that I entered this world.

Mom proceeded to tell me that the savings bond was a gift from my grandmother who had recently passed. Grandma had bought a savings bond for each of my sisters as well.

A Few Strings

This gift came with some instructions: My sisters and I were to use the savings bond to buy something to remember our grandma by. We could not use it to pay bills or spend it frivolously.

I put considerable thought into what I could purchase that would be a reminder of grandma.

After considering several possibilities, I decided that I would buy three gold coins. This would be something that I could pass on to my children or possibly grandchildren.

As I was about to pull the trigger and buy the coins, I hesitated. Something kept tugging at my thoughts. The gold coins would certainly meet the requirements that were given and the coins would certainly be beautiful to look at. Most of the time, however, the coins would be hidden in a box and only occasionally removed for viewing.

I don’t think something that would be hidden from view is what my grandma had in mind, so I had to reconsider.

But what would fit the bill?

My younger sister bought a nice mahogany dining set. My older sister bought some furniture, but also purchased a computerized embroidery sewing machine.

My family has always worked with our hands, whether that was crafting, baking, sewing, blacksmithing or building things that we needed around the house or farm.

Maybe I could use grandma’s gift to help me make things.

Up to this point, my woodworking skills amounted to a crude bookshelf and a table made of 2x4s and 1x12s.

Lifetime of Learning

I changed my course and bought some woodworking tools to see if I could improve my skills. I added some additional funds to my grandma’s gift and bought a 6″ jointer, 13″ planer, a 16″ band saw and a wood lathe.

After many years of learning (a lot of it by way of the school of hard knots), I have improved my woodworking skills.

My projects increased in complexity as my abilities grew, and have included blanket chests, a slant-front desk, a butterfly drop-leaf table and the Queen Anne highboy shown here.

I think of my grandma every time that I am in the shop and when I look at the things I have built.

I can definitely see grandma’s smiling face when I look at the highboy – and I think she would be proud.  Kenneth Royal

This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

Recommended Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search