My father never leaves Massachusetts, but he is moving slowly into my San Francisco apartment. Dad enjoys projects, like I do, but his craft is carpentry. He builds furniture for his kids and ships the finished furniture across the country.
He puts a lot of effort into each piece. He selects wood–cherry or oak–with unusual quilting. He eschews pedestrian nails and screws for more elegant wood dowels and dovetail joints. He designs, saws, planes, and sands. To finish, Dad applies five coats of Tung oil, vigorously sanding after each application, to fill in the grain. For chairs, a local upholsterer fashions cushions with either cotton or leather covers. Lastly, Dad contacts a packer who takes away the parts and boxes them. A long-distance shipper, usually YRC, hauls the freight over the Rockies.
A YRC truck fills the street in front of my apartment out of which emerges a lift and a stack of boxes. After the shipper deposits the stack in my garage, I uncrate the furniture, carry the pieces upstairs, and assemble Dad’s furniture in my apartment.
Today, Dad delivers a large chair and a small bookshelf. Over the years, he has populated my apartment with a bookcase, bench, and bed. When his furniture arrives, I sell or give away the old IKEA furniture.
When my Dad started carpentry, he made furniture for himself and our house. After he filled the house with tables and chairs, he wanted to make more but had no place for new pieces. Now he builds to give away to sons and friends.
I admire the man so much. I’d like to get to my Father’s stage of making new pieces to give away. I still have hats to wear and empty walls to cover, but like my Dad, I’m running out of space.