Marketers Gone Wild

I love watching the work of marketers. What they do is as lurid and engrossing as sharks attacking chum. The art of manipulation, of tapping into our frail psyches and implanting new wants and needs, is a never-ending source of fascination for me. I can (and do) stare at infomercials with rapt attention, listening for the features and the benefits (OH the sweet, sweet benefits!) of using their product. I listen for brand positioning, for pricing, for purchase triggers. How are they creating urgency? What needs are they claiming to meet?

I’m trained in marketing. I understand why marketers do what they do (because it works). If I can create an emotional bond between you and the product or service I have to offer, you are FAR more likely to buy it.

Curly Cherry Desk Top Build

I just finished a fun project and thought I’d give a brief narrative of the construction process. The client wanted a new desk-top that would sit atop an iron base (client provided the base). He wanted the desk-top made from a single, natural-edged slab, with highly figured wood. If I couldn’t find that, then he wanted the 3 foot X 5 foot desktop made of no more than two, book-matched boards.

Mesquite Executive Desk Build, Part 3 (Final)

Well, the desk is finished. Delivered last week, photographed (thanks, Christy!), shop purged and cleaned. Definitely bitter-sweet, as I am now done with something that occupied hundreds of hours of my life.  So, are you going to jump to the bottom to see the final pictures? Or are you going to dutifully stick with the narrative and not read ahead? Choose your own adventure, my friends.

Back to the narrative… Boxes are now out of the clamps, so it’s time to make drawer dividers.

Mesquite Executive Desk Build: Part 2

My wife will *surely* disagree with me on this, but I make mistakes. And in this, Part 2 of our desk build, I will reveal some of them. One of my mentors is fond of saying, “The measure of a woodworker is how good he (she) is at fixing what they screwed up.” There’s a lot of truth to that. I like to think that my mistakes are getting smaller as I get better. I like to think that, but I still make some whoppers.  Fear not, client, we’ve still got a good thing going here!

Mesquite Executive Desk Build: Part 1

My current commission is a large executive desk made of black walnut and honey mesquite. The only guidance given by the client were rough dimensions. Other than that, he said, “Make me the desk you’d want to own if you were making it for yourself.” That caused me a month of existential anguish, as I searched my soul for what I’d want in a desk. I wish I was kidding about that, but this really turned into analysis paralysis. South Texas mesquite (aka Honey Mesquite) is an extremely cool-looking wood with a sort-of rustic feel, so that was my starting point.

Tabula Rasa

Every time I finish a woodworking project, I feel an overwhelming compulsion to clean my shop. The accumulated dust and debris and clutter has become almost overwhelming and I absolutely must clear it all out rightnowthisveryminutebeforeIgonuts. I blame both of my parents for this: my dad is a neat freak and my mother is, by temperament, the opposite of that. In a stroke of comic genius, God gave me both traits simultaneously. So while I’m working, I make this explosion of mess in the shop. Tools are hanging from the rafters, sawdust is knee-high, lumber is leaning against every wall. The longer the project goes, the greater the mess, and the greater my grumpiness. Until finally, there’s catharsis and purging, the sweet relief of organizing and sweeping and putting away. Then, when everything is buttoned up and tidy, I can survey the shop with satisfaction, a half-smile on my face, and prepare for the next project.

So what’s going on with that? For me, I don’t think it’s a control thing. I think it’s more about needing to start with a blank, clean sheet of paper.  Clear out the old and start fresh each time.

That idea of starting fresh is a powerful one, and an ancient one. In Judaism, there’s Yom Kippur, the Holy Day on which one’s slate is wiped clean. For that day, at least, you are starting anew, with the hope of a fresh start.  There’s also Lamentations 3:21-23 in the Old Testament, offering a clean slate each day:


This is only tangentially a small business blog post, so when this quickly devolves into existential ‘Dear Diary’ pathos, I ask your forbearance.

I recently went to a prospective client’s home to create a scope and fee for a furniture project she was interested in having me do. While there, her husband called her on the phone. After chatting for a minute, she said to him, “Honey, that carpenter guy is here. I gotta go.” I kept sketching the project in my little notebook, but that phrase kept running through my head. “That carpenter guy…” She didn’t intend to be condescending, I’m sure. But nonetheless, I left her house muttering, “That carpenter guy, huh? Oh yeah, I’m that carpenter guy.”