Late-night Rendezvous at the Woodpile
Some men seek solace in a bottle. Others in the arms of a woman. For me, when the world starts swirling around the proverbial bidet, I look to construction lumber.
Late last night as I was headed to the grocery store for milk and yogurt, my mind was churning with what I should do about my four punky legs that were supposed to be the legs of my latest workbench. Before I could get to the grocery store, the tempting lights of our home center pulled me into its nearly empty parking lot. There were maybe three customers milling about, and a squadron of idle employees.
I wandered into the lumber racks. Two employees tailed me.
I stopped at a rack of 6 x 6 x 8′ timbers in the pressure-treated lumber section. Inset into this wall of light-green wood was a single bunk of stuff that was totally white.
“Is this pressure-treated?” I asked one of my stalkers. “It looks really white, like plain white pine.”
The employee brought me a step ladder and showed me the timbers at the back of the pile. They were rotting and covered in bugs. The stuff at the front , which was the same color , was drier and quite sound , just some minor end-checking.
“I don’t think these are treated, so I wouldn’t use them,” the employee said. “I don’t even think we can sell these.”
I told them I might take a couple and the guy knocked $3 off the price of each. Instead of $15.97 each, I paid $12.97. They cut them up to fit in my car and I headed off to the grocery.
Normally, I’m not a big fan of mixing wood species on the visible surfaces of a project. So I wondered if a cherry benchtop and a pine base would be ugly. Could I bleach the cherry? Or perhaps color the pine with a reddish toner?
When I arrived home, my wife, Lucy, was sitting at our dining room table. It’s a Shaker thing I built for Woodworking Magazine with a pine trestle base, a long cherry top made with only two boards and lots of exposed joinery. Just like this workbench would have.
Maybe mixing species will work out. Or maybe I’ll sell this bench.
– Christopher Schwarz