Screams and Whimpers
The common idea of the furniture maker is of an older man peeling curls of hardwood with a hand plane. He is peaceful and competent and everything is going according to plan.
That's not me, really.
If you were to stand outside my shop, you might hear fleeting moments of self-satisfied silent work. But they would inevitably be interrupted by screams and whimpers.
Because wood doesn't want to become a chair or a dining room table.
And a craftsman, as I sometimes fancy myself, should be a constant student. A furniture maker toils in the shadows of the generations of builders that passed before.
And many of them were really good.
And by really good, I mean disturbingly awesome at building beautiful things.
And so, if you're always trying new and old techniques of joinery, you're going to make mistakes. And if you're me, you're then going swear.
You might, for instance, throw a drawer that you just spent two intense hours chiseling half blind dovetails into only to have the God-forsaken last tenon snap off.
And then you might whimper a little bit as you feed it to the stove that has consumed so much of your labor.
My name is Aaron Beswick. Respected throughout the land for my foresight, I chose a career in print journalism.
Though lately I've been harboring a suspicion that it won't be the wildly profitable enterprise I had predicted, it has taken me some wonderful places.
None the least of which is where I find myself now - Jimtown, Antigonish County.
I live with my wife and infant son in a little old house on a hill. We can look out our window at a small beach-side community of people who care about one another.
Up the hills behind us and down the dirt roads that snake around the Cape George peninsula is where I get my lumber.
Nova Scotia, where I toil, is home to something precious.
The Acadian Forest ecosystem has evolved on our provincial peninsula. It is a mixture of the northern hardwood forests and the great boreal.
And through a mixing of the species of tree and animals that survive off them, it has become its own entity entirely.
Living under it is a gift to be cherished.
The human residents, first the Mi'kmaq and later Europeans, of this Acadian Forest have long made most everything they need out of wood.
So an intimate understanding of how different kinds of lumber behaves, what you can do to it and what you can't, how and when to cut it, mill it and dry it, persists among Nova Scotia's craftsmen.
I'm just a young feller but the knowledge of generations surrounds me.
Up on the hills you'll find long lived hardwoods like sugar maple and yellow birch. Ash likes to lean over the brooks and rivers that wend to our varied coast. As you near the wind tormented shore you'll find the much under-appreciated black spruce.
Where the ground is always wet, the tree of many names grows - Newfies and some Cape Bretoners call it Juniper, mainlanders call it hakmatak or tamarack, but all agree the proper name is larch.
Then there are the great lords of our forest - the hemlock and the pine.
We once had a lot of beech too - but a canker that came with the European influx has gnarled and stunted its growth.
I heard someone say of trees once that they don't grow where they want to, they grow where they can.
That is to say that they find a place they can get by and make the best of it ... kind of like Nova Scotians.
This is where we have fun.
And it starts with you and your space.
What aesthetic do you have now and where do you see it evolving over time?
So we have a chat.
We do some Googling for ideas.
We compare thoughts.
Then we come up with something new or old or a mixture of both.
But whatever it is we build, it will be one of a kind.
I don't do runs of furniture - each piece is a custom design and one-off build. In most cases I can take you to the stump of the tree it came from.