Most projects in life go through a phase of getting a bit messier before better.
To cut the mortise through a piece of wood is to defile whatever clean surface you’ve started with. A shape is marked and holes are drilled in some fashion to the personal preference of the artist.
With hand tools, there’s a series of rough chiseling. I’d like to say that I make beautiful mortises from the start but that’s not the truth. The surfaces are marked and uneven as I remove material to get close. If I were to stop there, someone would have nightmares about wood slivers and checked grain.
Wood chips and shaving scattered around my work space tell the story of that rough hewn slot complete with bites from my tools. Attempts at placing the tenons in place are mostly disappointing.
But that’s not the end of the story. Smaller chisels remove particularly tricky bits of wood and wider chisels plane the surface. The mortise becomes smooth inside, straight. And the Tenons refined and regular.
A bit more careful work and one will slip into the other snugly but without force.
I’ve tried it the other way. Pristine and perfect at every step. Careful and meticulous. Half way done and it could go in a museum as a testament to good craftsmanship even before anything fits together.
There’s a time and a place for this.
But generally speaking I like the adventure. I like delving into uncertainty with enough leeway that a bit more can be removed and all will be well. It feels raw. It feels honest.
In the war between artists I am on the side of maker’s hand be seen.
This is a story about a small wooden shrine.
It is also a story about a heartfelt human being.
It might even be a story about everything.