I picked this old drawer unit up at the dump today. A guy was about to throw it into the big “mixed wood” skip but I had it off him instead.
Looking at it back at home it is quite far gone, it’s plywood all round but for the frame, runners, handles and some of the drawer sides, and it’s been out in the rain at some point so there’s quite a lot of delamination. Before that it was a labour of love though; you can see it was all handmade, the runners are notched into the frame, there are little pencil marks everywhere inside, and I’d guess it was a guy making a little storage for his own garage or home workshop or something.
The reason I’m bothering to post about it is a discovery about the drawers that made me chuckle. The first one I pulled out was dovetailed at the back and front, not brilliantly but competently, and all by hand as you could see where the saw had overrun here and there – and in plywood of all things. I was surprised and impressed. As you move down though the dovetails become fewer, and eventually give way to plain old nails, drawer sides even marked out for dovetails and then simply nailed on! It’s a permanent record of a guy some decades ago getting more and more fed up.
I would like to return it to use if I feel like doing the work. There’s nothing in the way of salvageable materials in it; if it weren’t for the traces of the guy who made it, honestly it would probably go back to the dump. But it would make me sad to throw it away, so probably I’ll let it hang around for a while and see how I feel about it in a month or so.
Surely most of us can identify with this anonymous amateur at some level, struggling to do his best work against the pressures of time and his own expectations.
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