Mo’ Better

At the age of 12, I gained access to the shop of a small time Italian cabinet maker. For the next 14 years, that was the center of my life. I did other things (school, drum and bugle corps, dating, etc.), but this was the be-all and end-all of my existence. He taught me many sayings, e.g. one two, buckle up my shoe; three four, shut up you face. The one in the title of this piece was the one I liked to hear the most because it referred most of the time to me doing a better job at something.

His was a hazy life where men weren’t exactly faithful to their wives and the law of the land (although never broken by him personally that I know of) was debatable, depending on how likely you were to get caught by someone who would do anything about your deeds. One thing remained sacrosanct, though: the rules of his work. It had to be profitable and therefore able to stand up to close examination. He made cabinets out of plywood with fancy veneer, and I was taught to handle that medium through the various tools we had and up into the spaces we had to install it.

The church and my sense of family to my wife and children knocked his rough edges off me, but I held onto the desire to make things so they could stand up to close examination. This has meant that I have had to adopt an incremental approach to quality: mo’ better all the time.

The piece featured today is one of my first inlay projects. It is a 30”x14”x18” side table with a drawer and has a corner-to-corner inlay with a little star around the knob. The table is cherry and the inlay is bloodwood and maple. I think of it as a job that helped me to get a grip on what is mo’ better.