Wood work


Photo of my Grandfather’s house taken from the driveway of a similar house he built for his sisters.

This house was built by my Swedish grandfather, a master carpenter, at least so the story goes within our family and he also built a similar house across the road, which was just a gravel track back then, for his four sisters. My father grew up in this house in a small town not far from the coast in northeastern Sweden. In the cellar my grandfather had a carpentry workshop but my father was never allowed down into the cellar.

As such my father lacked confidence in making things and struggled even to put up a shelf, much to my mother’s endless dismay and despair. Nevertheless he had an interest in technical things and bought a Sinclair Spectrum computer when it arrived on the market in the 70s. He was still typing emails and using Facebook into his mid-nineties before passing away a few years ago.

I on the other-hand learned all my woodworking and metalworking skills at school in the UK, mostly before the age of 14 and I can still remember all those lessons vividly. I passed my woodwork O-level at another school, where strangely I cannot for the life of me ever remember doing woodwork there, but that’s by the way. While teaching at a university in Taiwan I drew on many of those early secondary school lessons while instructing students on their design models.

A kitchen I designed and am presently in the process of constructing got me back into woodworking and I was reminded just how enjoyable working in wood can be. Unfortunately being impatient and a bit of a bodger much of it has been a bit of a pig’s breakfast. Still, undeterred I am making progress and look forward to posting pictures of the kitchen once it is completed. After years of torturing myself I have come to accept my mistakes and to learn from them, a useful attitude for all perfectionists and even non perfectionists out there.

As a footnote: Both those houses mentioned were pulled down by the local council back in the 70s or 80s and new blocks of flats were built in their place. My remaining grandparents and great aunts were rehoused into new apartments, no doubt reluctantly as none of them survived much longer after that upheaval. The whole area was redeveloped making it impossible to recognize again and now it’s just another typical ‘modern’ characterless urbanization. Thankfully I can still remember how it once was and enjoy those memories. Even the distinctive smells of the wood, polish and something else that was unique to Sweden. No idea what that smell was but my memories of that old house were triggered on a visit to Kalmar some years ago, almost 1000 km away.

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