It’s all about the imperfections.

In the cottage we stayed at last week there was a huge antique chest in the living room, the kind with thin, widely spaced dovetails. But the thing that intrigued me the most was the imperfections. The sides were made out of a very wide plank, and there was no attempt made to make it perfect. The photo below shows a number of marks, likely the result of planing the wood flat. Also note how ad-hoc the hole for the chest handle is (there was no hardware on the chest except for the hinges). Using a drill to bore out waste is fine, but look at how close the holes are that were used to attach the handle.

imperfections

What do these imperfections add? Character.

Now days we would strive to make the chest as perfect as possible, first choosing wood with no knots, and likely machine-planing it until all imperfects are removed. But wood is wood, and is itself not a perfect building material. Here are two more imperfections found in the chests dovetails: the first (left) is a failure along the glue-line, and the second is a gap in the dovetail, likely from too much material being removed from the pin.

imperfectionsDOVE

 

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