Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Mom, The Carpenter

My mother was so creative. She could do just about anything she set her mind to do.

My grandmother played the piano but Mom never learned how. One day she decided that she wanted to be able to play. She got some instructional books from the library and got to work. She was not a concert pianist or anything but she could play. I can play with one finger but she uses both hands. She was so talented.

Mom, my youngest sister, and I had talked about someday moving back to the part of the country I am living in now. We would open a little shop selling souvenirs and fun little trinkets. We would call it The Tourist Trap. Of course we never got beyond the talking stage but it was a fun idea.

Eventually Mom decided that she had enough of the cold winters she had experienced her whole life. She tried Florida and did not like it there.

My youngest sister was living in Kentucky. Kentucky had a more moderate climate. They do have a bit of snow now and then and the temperature gets cool. But as a rule they do not have the bitter cold weather of the midwest and plains states. Mom was going to live in Kentucky.

Mom and I had taken a nice vacation together driving through New England. We stopped and saw what we wanted to. We slept when we wanted to. It was a great vacation and we ended it in Kentucky at my sister's house.

Mom went out one afternoon and rented a place. We were surprised because she had said nothing before she left.

It was a nice little mobile home set on a piece of property between a highway and a drop-off that ended with a stream below. There were a lot of trees. It was small but she was alone and needed nothing larger.

The problem was that there was no furniture. Mom had kept nothing of her old furniture because she had been staying in Florida with our other sister and had no need for it.

She had limited funds. She would not starve or anything but she did have to pay attention. And she liked to stay busy and creative.

So she needed furniture. Mom decided to make her own. She went out and purchased a power saw, a hammer, nails, screws, and a screwdriver. She had to buy other tools but those were the main ones. Then she bought two-by-fours and one-by-fours.

Mom designed everything herself. She took measurements and made the furniture to her own specifications. The first was her bed.

She had to make it to accommodate a regular mattress and box springs. She did not feel like she wanted to be quite that creative to make a mattress. The bed was basic. She made a headboard and footboard and side board with edges at the bottom to hold the slats that the box springs would sit on. How she fastened the legs on I cannot tell you. I am not the creative one.

She sanded all the wood to smooth it. Then she lacquered it to give it a nice sheen. She wanted no artificial color. She wanted the wood to have the color it came with. She had a nice sturdy bed.

Living room furniture was next. She started with the couch. She made a bench style piece. The seat is slanted slightly to allow for comfort. The arms are wide and comfortable. They are wide enough to place a drink safely. She made it the size she wanted it to be. It need not be a conventional size.

Again she sanded and lacquered. The wood was a nice and clean looking.

A comfy chair was next. The same process was used. It is a sturdy chair. Mom liked to read and do her handicrafts while sitting in a big comfortable chair. Now she would have one.

You might think that all that wood would not be terribly comfortable. You are right. Not to worry. Mom had it well in hand.

She bought some strong but attractive material. It felt good to touch. She made the coverings for big, firm, comfortable cushions. Then she filled them with whatever big, firm, comfortable cushions are filled with.

She did not make kitchen furniture. My youngest brother had all of Daddy's woodworking tools. That included the ones that would turn legs for chairs and a table. Mom did want to invest that much money into tools she might never use again so she bought something that she liked.

Mom never ceased to amaze me. She was so capable. I really wish I was more like her that way.

Because of circumstances I will tell at another time, Mom moved back in with my sister. She took her furniture with her. My sister has it now. It is still just as strong as it was when it was built. I am hoping that it will be passed down through my sister's family and the story of its origin will be passed along with it.


  1. Your mother sounds like she certainly would not let anything stand in her way, Emma. You didn't mention it, but I am assuming she knew how to use those power tools and other equipment before embarking on her furniture making project.

    1. Oh yes she certainly did. She and my father laid the hardwood floor in the house our family built. She also refinished the floors in another house they owned after Daddy died. Like I said she was very creative. So was my father. Now if someone could just explain to me why I am not...