I spent much of yesterday hard at work on a really fun project: three Roubo folding book stands. After watching Roy Underhill knock one out on the Woodwright’s Shop, I became fascinated by the oddball joinery of the piece.
The knuckle joint is a weird one, something that looks like it shouldn’t exist. It’s what you’d probably get if you handed M.C. Escher a chisel and asked him to build you a shelf. It’s also a really cool thing that you can do at home with the right tools and a lot of patience.
I got started on my book stands yesterday. I’m making three, breaking with Roubo’s admonition to always makes these in pairs, because I had three pieces of wood lying around that were the perfect size. My stands will be narrower than the one Roy demonstrates because I’m using them to display my novels at a Steampunk convention this Memorial Day weekend.
I also break with Roubo’s traditional ogee design for the cutouts, aiming for a more geometric style to fit the Art Deco aesthetic – my novels are alternate history 1920s-1930s adventure-thrillers.
At the end of the day, leaving my three book stands at around 25% complete, I came inside and stared at the ol’ silicon box and spotted this gem by Christopher Schwarz. In reading what he has to say about dead vegetable matter, I was reminded that the literal translation of “sacrifice” is “to make sacred”.
Chris asks us to consider this question: If, in our woodworking, we are sacrificing a tree, then in the making of furniture and other objects, be they of art, utility, or both, are we not bringing the act of sacrifice full circle?
I’ll add this question: Though we may introduce some innovation or change to an old master’s design, do we not still honor the origins of our profession (or hobby, in my case)? The same is true for writing, you know 😉 And like The Schwarz says about woodworking, this scrivening gig might just make you a little funny if you do it long enough. For my money, I’m going with the priests of a pagan religion idea. What about you?