Before I Die

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I think it’s safe to say that most people have a list of things they would like to accomplish before they die. Most of the lists are a combination of places to visit and crazy things to do (which may bring you much closer to the end of your list). Not mine. I’m measuring the number of my days by the projects I want to build. Here are my top ten:

  1. Tool Cabinet: I had the opportunity to see the Studley tool cabinet and the replica made by Jim Moon; both left me in awe. Long before Handworks, I worked in a custom woodworking shop that had a poster of the Studley cabinet hanging on the wall. I knew back then that I wanted to build a fancy tool cabinet. But not like Studley’s (or Moon’s) which are over the top inspirational. I have my heart set on something similar to Greg Radley’s (Found in Jim Tolpin’s The Toolbox Book). This project has been on my bucket list for years which is why I haven’t built something else. But the old dresser I’m using now is nearing the end of its usefulness so this one gets the number 1 spot.
  2. Upholstered Chair: My father-in-law has a chair that is wonderful to sit in. I like the style of it, but my real interest lies in the learning curve. I’ve never done any upholstery work, but I asked Michael Mascelli about it and we emailed back and forth enough that I’m confident I can build the frame.
  3. Guitar: I enjoy playing the guitar and would love to own a Taylor. But the truth is that I’m not that good at playing and the cost is prohibitive (especially when all I do is repeat a bad version of Smoke on the Water). But building one? That would be fun.
  4. Federal Hall Table: I’m not particularly drawn to Federal furniture, but I saw one built by Frank Strazza that was unbelievable. In fact, this was the table that inspired me to give marquetry a try. I have no idea what I would do with it once it was finished (my wife wouldn’t let me keep it) but I almost consider this piece to be a “rite of passage” as a woodworker.
  5. Sideboard: While visiting the Biltmore Estate I saw a huge sideboard (everything in that “house” is huge) that I dreamed about for days. I even made several sketches and proportional changes so that it would look right in my house. But then the November issue of Popular Woodworking came out featuring an Arts & Crafts sideboard by Nancy Hiller. It’s perfect. Now I’m rethinking my plans.
  6. Pie Crust Table: Simply because it looks like a technical challenge. I don’t own any other classic furniture and I haven’t made any either. But this is the one that gets my heart going. One of these days I may even come across the perfect piece of mahogany and make it a reality.
  7. Campaign Furniture: When Lost Art Press released Campaign Furniture I didn’t even know that was a thing. Everything in the book could be on this list. I think I’m drawn to the combination of brass and wood the most. But I’m also drawn to the simplicity of it. Functionally beautiful.
  8. Windsor Chair: I can only think of a few other projects that incorporate so many different disciplines; carving, turning, bending, green wood, drying wood… I can see why this chair can consume a craftsperson. If I ever make one I’m going to take a class with Greg Pennington or Peter Galbert so I have someone to hold my hand through the process. Plus there is nothing more fun than taking classes and working through projects with others.
  9. Bombé Chest: The back cover on the Jul/Aug 2002 issue of Fine Woodworking featured a bombé chest made by Randall O’Donnell. I can still remember standing in the checkout at Lowe’s looking at this. Of course, it was out of my league then and it still is, but a man has to have goals.
  10. Slant Front Desk: My wife and I were browsing an Amish furniture store when she found a desk she loved. And I loved the concept. It was a slant front desk but made for modern electronics—the proportions looked good but the price tag was too steep. Occasionally, she will mention “that desk we saw?” It has to be on this list.

Someday someone will have to pry a chisel from my cold fingers, but I plan to keep at it until then.

 

What would you want to build before you die?

 

 

*Note: This post seems link heavy. I try to provide links to make it easy for you to get to things I’m talking about. I don’t receive any compensation from anyone.

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. Ben Strano says:

    Careful where you link to. That top link is to Ted’s plans. Bad news there. Plus, it’s a huge repository of stolen copy writes in general. If you guys ever need something from Taunton, let me know and I try and help.

    Like

    1. Eric Key says:

      Interesting. I found it with a google search and it looked like a legitimate blog. I’ll disable the link. Thanks for the heads up and being willing to help.

      Like

  2. Mario says:

    Your list is very similar to mine! I too have a wide range of wood working interests and growing abilities. It is all just so interesting and beautiful! In Matt Cremona’s words, “Happy Woodworking!”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. oltexasboy says:

    Christmas of 1994 or ’95 I saw a glass front secretary that I had to have until I saw the price. That was the beginning of me doing woodwork. I knew a little about carpentry but not woodwork but I made one anyway. The thing is a mess, but I use it everyday. I finally finished it up about 2 years later during and after the time my mother died and it was a way of escaping what was going on in my life at the time. I was off work recouping from knee surgery and waiting for Mama to pass. I didn’t know how to do “fine woodwork” but I made myself finish it, there are somethings that you put on a bucket list that may never get finished because it is a way of pushing the inevitable ahead a bit. You don’t have to be , have or do perfect work and if you wait until your skill level is what you think it needs to be to accomplish the task you may never get it done, at least, get it started and finished even if it ain’t perfect. I like my secretary that I’m writing from and consider it an accomplishment on my journey to where ever I end up.

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    1. Eric Key says:

      I think that is a great piece of advice! I am also glad you shared how woodworking is a way to deal with the other areas of our lives.

      Like

  4. I want to build a lot of the same things. I decided to make a poor man’s copy of the Studley chest and found that it’s basic carcass construction is actually pretty simple and “forgiving” in a way. The only tricky bit was attaching the brass corner beads. The insides still arent done but it’ll pretty simple and it won’t be for tools – it’s a cabinet/stand for my Cintiq and laptop.

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  5. ….my name links to it. I’d planned a pine version but had a glue up mishap and then lucked into some mahogany veneer….but if you get the Studley book from LAP, you’ll see the basic construction is pretty simple.

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    1. Eric Key says:

      That looks fantastic! I had the opportunity to see the Studley cabinet in Iowa…this looks just like it. Great job!

      Like

  6. Derek Long says:

    A full dinette set – table, chairs and all – is my big “one day” item. I think my “to do” list has 30 or 40 items on it, and adding faster than I can build!

    Like

    1. Eric Key says:

      I can relate to a growing list of projects! A dinette set sounds like a lot of fun…

      Like

  7. Maybe I’m the odd bird here but my bucket list is more of a To Do list. Finish the dining room table. Build a lego table. Build a desk. Build a bed with storage. The only thing aspirational is completing them.

    It could be the stage: more time to think about woodworking than do woodworking. It could also be something else.

    Good post though.

    Like

  8. Maybe I’m the odd bird here but my bucket list is more of a To Do list. Finish the dining room table. Build a lego table. Build a desk. Build a bed with storage. The only thing aspirational is completing them.

    It could be the stage: more time to think about woodworking than do woodworking. It could also be something else.

    Good post though.

    Like

    1. Eric Key says:

      Thanks. The truth is that my wife’s “honey do” list takes priority over anything I want to do. I have over 30 doors to make, kitchen cabinets, a bed, night stands…the list just goes on. But I have to throw in a few fun things while making some of the other stuff or I will go crazy.

      Like

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