Last spring, I ventured by myself to the local lumberyard. I decided to make my son a proper bed. I sketched out a quick design based on my bed and took some measurements and recalculated them to go from a queen size to a full. Like most of my ideas, it was fueled by a combination of impulse and confidence that I’d figure out a way to build it even though I never had made, or designed, a single piece of furniture. Well, not counting a spoon mule because I’m not quite sure if that falls on the furniture or tool side of the fence. Anyway, I went in search of birch or maple and came back with poplar. It was a practical economic decision – birch and maple were expensive, and that wasn’t even factoring the cost of my likely mistakes between measuring and then using the table saw. Besides, I embraced poplar after I found out that it was just another name for the aspen tree, and my son and I have good memories with aspen trees.
So I planed and sawed, and jointed and sawed some more. I worked out of a local woodshop with thoughtful old guys who never minded stopping what they were doing to answer my silly questions. A rhythm developed week after week at the shop, and as I cut the lumber to length, I started to feel that I actually might build that bed.
Summer came and went. The cut wood lived under my couch for months until this Fall when a good friend helped me with the joinery and assembling it. He is a woodworker that lives on precision but apparently also patience after he saw my design. Every Friday, I laughed my ass off as we worked because his sense of humor equals his kindness. But we did it, and just before Christmas, the bed was built. I finished it for my son’s birthday.
I built it extra strong, so it could withstand the thousands of jumps that a child must do to break in their new bed, but also for the inevitable journeys that I hope that he and the bed take in the years ahead. Time passes too quickly. Someday, he and his bed will leave home. Perhaps to college, then to other cities, apartment after apartment then finally to a home that he will call his own, where I hope, his child will sleep in it and dream sweet dreams too.
This essay was originally published on www.woodenspooncarving.com (January 2020).