Off this fine morning, light of heart, to Sidney for wood; a nice sunny day, the first in a while; how agreeable to head off with J. after breakfast, driving a bit too quickly through the Fulford Valley, catching the Skeena Queen for the thirty-five minute ride to Swartz Bay; chatting to Rob D. in the ferry's horrible utilitarian lounge (no lounging possible), looking out at Portland Island and Shute Passage, but failing to make a wood list for Westwind, and so going for coffee and toast at Canoe Cove coffee shop to figure one out, with proper perked coffee and brown toast and blackberry jam, and a sunny seat in the window.
So what's needed? Oak. White quarter-sawn 1" & 2" for three small table/stools for Joyce S. Also, if I'm lucky, an 8" piece of 4"x4" oak for the cross I agreed to make a year ago for St Mary's Church in Fulford.
Westwind was busy; I did find a decent piece of 4x4, some 2", and some nice wide QS white oak 1" planks. I tallied them myself, gave the measurements to Shelley, and left feeling altogether successful. We had an hour before the next boat, and walked with the other elderly perambulators along the waterfront pathway, in warm sunshine and a cool wind, thinking of summer sailing.......
Back in the shop I polished up Jane B.'s two antiques that had needed quite a number of veneer and inlay repairs, and the consequent colouring and blending; these could then be moved out of the shop into the front room. Done! Then Jane's 5' round oak table, which is now all re-assembled and working (some total nitwit had carefully sawn off the stop-dowels in the four-part telescoping slides, thus ensuring that any attempt to extend the table would result in its immediate collapse. Why do people do this? What are they thinking?) was taken apart again (the massive barley-sugar twist legs just screw on, IKEA style) and rolled outside onto the porch to get it out of the way.
With all this cleared away it was time to bring in the oak.
At this point the day soured. Didn't those nice 9" planks of edge-grained white oak have the faintest reddish tinge? Surely not – a trick of the light. But weren't they perhaps a bit light in weight? Was it possible that I'd once again fucked up, and somehow managed to bring home the vile Quercus Rubra, rather than the lovely Quercus Alba? It would not be the first time. The sun had vanished into the bare alders and the day had nearly faded; the long February twilight was chill. At least, after last summer's confusion and consequent research, I knew what I had to do.
Cut a half inch piece off the plank; sand the end grain on both surfaces. Blow the dust off with the air hose. Hold the air-hose firmly against the wood, and feel the breeze blowing through the pores. Red bloody oak.
I hate red oak. I hate its coarseness; I hate its pinkness and murky redness, that bleeds through every known stain; I hate its cheap look; I hate the way it can't be made to look like proper oak. I hate the stuff that's made with it - kitchen cupboards, repro furniture. I hate everything I've ever made with it. I will never, never, use it again. Unless, of course, I mistake it for white oak.......