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Walnut Box with Spalted Maple Inlay

Who hasn’t found themselves fussing over a project – running a plane over it just one more time or fretting over whether or not it needs another sanding? As with anything in life, the quest for perfection is an illusive one. In this excerpt from “Build 25 Beautiful Boxes,” master box-maker Doug Stowe shares a few thoughts about the idea of perfection and what it means in his own woodworking journey. 

Doug StoweMany cultures around the world share an interesting notion of perfection. Amish quilt makers would leave a single stitch undone rather than make the “perfect” quilt, expressing their belief that only God could make something perfect. Among weavers in Turkey, the same idea is found. Many Chinese and Japanese artists believe that their work should include “incompleteness and imperfection,” an emptiness that leaves room for further growth.

I’ve never had much problem with perfection. I’ve yet to make the perfect box or the perfect piece of furniture. I can’t imagine in my own work the need to leave something imperfect as a statement, to ever complete the perfect piece and find myself in that predicament.


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