Perfection

I strive for perfection in my work. It’s a maddening process, as I’m forced to settle for “to the best of my ability and the materials at hand.” Admittedly, the main things I see in a piece as I’m about to send it out are the flaws. Wood is an imperfect material and I am an imperfect being, so there are flaws – most so minute as to go unnoticed. My wife says it adds a certain charm that says, “This was made by the hands of one man, not manufactured in a factory.”

I’m occasionally asked to interpret a piece of furniture from a manufacturer. I won’t copy, as I don’t appreciate others copying my work, but most manufacturers won’t do custom variations. So a client will ask me to do a different shape, size or other permutation. They will send a picture or ask me to view the piece in question. Generally these are high quality pieces, so the first thing I notice is their apparent perfection: totally uniform grain pattern, color and form. Evenly stained verneer (I only use solid wood) lacquered to a perfectly smooth finish (mine are handrubbed).

I have to remind myself that if that’s what they wanted they wouldn’t have come to me. My work isn’t perfect. I spend a great deal of time selecting and orienting boards for the optimal match of grain and color, but wood is an organic material that does vary. It has a personality I refuse to mask with stain and lacquer. The slight undulations in a table top I have handplaned and scraped reflect the nature of the craft – to the best of my ability…

You can view my attempts at perfection on my website: www.dekovenfurniture.com

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