Thursday, March 3, 2011

Something Else Other Than What it Looks Like

"Every once in a while, someone says to me, “Say, I’ve got something I want you to look at. Maybe you can tell me what kind of wood it is.” Well, once I used to fall for that bait. I used to bite like a trout in a spring rain. A hungry trout at that. But no more. I’m an old fish now, and experience has taught me caution.

What happens every time is that I get shown some trick piece of furniture. Sometimes it’s swamp oak or some other rare breed cut at a funny angle across the grain so that it looks like chestnut. Or maybe it is a poplar table top stained and finished to look like cherry (one of the commonest tricks or the trade). Or somebody will have bleached and stained large-pored mahogany to look like walnut. Don’t ask me why they did it. Cabinetmakers are mostly crazy, anyway. Not to mention that they are all frustrated forgers at heart.

So now when anyone asks me what some wood is, I immediately figure that it has to be something else other than what it looks like. So if it looks like oak I say it’s chestnut. And vice versa and et cetera. This way I manage to preserve my dignity at least a good 50 per cent of the time. Before that, I was batting zero."

-George Grotz ‘The Furniture Doctor'

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