Jim's Blog: Observations and Perspectives

From Wood Off-cuts to Desk

A Place for Everything


A place for everything, and everything in its place. It’s a good saying. I like to try to inculcate this in my young son, aged twelve. Or, to adjust an old saying slightly, “Orderliness is next to godliness.”

“He really needs his own desk,” I said to Sue. “That way, he can start to develop good study and work habits.” We were in a departmental store a day or two later, and we spotted a small desk for sale. “Something like that would be good for Matthew,” we found ourselves saying to each other.

I sketched it up in my mind’s eye. “I have some wood from the bookshelves I made,” I remarked, referring to a project I had recently completed” (oh, the joys of being in publishing and book-selling!) “I think I could make something rather like this.” Sure enough, when we got home, and when I checked the supply of off-cuts in the corner of the garage, it looked like there was enough lumber to make a small desk.

Some days later, a trail of sawdust leading into the house, some sandpapering, and a couple of coats of varnish, the outcome was a compact little desk about the same size as the one we had seen in the shop–and for just a few dollars for the materials that I did not already have to hand. Pine can look nice when it has a lick or two of stain and varnish on it.

Our predecessors, early settlers in Africa and America, learned to make do with what they had, finding that they could be both frugal and artistic in the process. I’ll always remember the words of a mentor who said to me: “We often discover that we need what we already have.”

I’m glad to say that I had what I already needed, as well as needing what I already had!

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