If I Were a Carpenter

Saturday, July 14, 2007
A few weeks ago, I got this crazy idea in my head that I was going to make my own retro/ modern furniture. Never mind that I’m a woman. If the chicks on Extreme Makeover – the Home Edition – can craft headboards from scratch, then why shouldn't I? And all of the authentic mid-century Danish stuff on eBay was just too darned expensive. So after poking around online and eventually Amazon.com I found this old (very old, as a matter of fact – copyright 1953) and used book called – what else? Build Your Own Modern Furniture by Klaus Grabe. And I’ve been waiting for Mr. Postman to deliver it ever since.

Yesterday, it arrived. It’s small. It’s paperback. It’s in black and white. It’s old, alright. The price that was printed on it as part of the cover says that it retails for 75 cents. So is it was worth the inflated 40 odd dollars that I paid for it? I think so. There are 21 nifty (there’s some cute fifties speak for you) projects to work on, and all of them look like designs you’d find in IKEA, from nesting tables to a platform bed. Unlike IKEA, though, these are projects that do require that you have a basic knowledge of woodworking including knowing what a butt joint (I’ll give you a hint…it’s not a body part) and a tenon is. And to give you an idea of the kind of politically incorrect time warp the book was produced in, the model carpenter photographed throughout the book has a cigarette dangling out of his mouth in some of the shots.

Thanks to the magic of adult continuing education, I feel confident, though, that after a few class sessions I could tackle this cute end table (the book tells me it's prefect for housing a high fidelity radio turner and record player!) or even one of the swell looking low-slung chairs. If you're ever looking for out-of-print books or magazines, www.bookfinder.com and www.lostpaper.com are two good resources.

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