Saturday, May 2, 2009

Portrait of a carpenter: Aidan Wing

I've known Aidan Wing since he was five years old. He and my son went through grade school together. His mother is a librarian; his father ran a nursery school. I never would have predicted that he would become a carpenter. And in fact, he isn't, not exactly, and not just because he works as an electrician half the time. Aidan's a musician.
La Honda is full of musician/carpenters. If you need work done on your house, there's always somebody you can hire. Down at Sullivan's Pub or Applejack's Bar or just hanging out on a bench down by the lake, there's always someone you can listen to. They repair our houses; they give us music. Someday the world will recognize the La Honda Sound, just as distinctive as the Seattle Sound or the Memphis Sound or the Liverpool Sound. In the La Honda version, there's always great guitar work combined with a steady rhythm that sounds vaguely reminiscent of somebody banging a hammer.

As a contractor I've hired a lot of teenagers, often providing their first job. I like to get them early. Aidan's no longer a teen, and I don't think I was his first job, but it's been a pleasure to watch him develop his skills. I've been his mentor in many ways, teaching skills and instilling standards. One thing I never had to teach Aidan was attitude: he's got that nailed. He's cheerful, eager to do well, and appreciates the same things I do such as recycling old wood and taking the extra time to do it right. Here's a vintage window Aidan trimmed for me using a combination of old redwood (the same wood as in this post) and some new red oak for the sill. We both like the mix of oak and ancient redwood:
Aidan built this shelf unit and also this worktable in my office:Working together, Aidan and I came up with a design that we've now used several times in my house. That worktable surface is one example of it, and here's another:
It's made of red oak floorboards nailed to 9/8 inch plywood, and it makes a solid, pretty surface. I came up with the design when I needed to build a huge desktop and had a pile of leftover flooring. They say necessity is the mother of invention...

La Honda is hippie country, and maybe it always will be. Aidan fits right in, both by heritage and by temperament. If you've heard my podcast of Clear Heart, then you've heard Aidan playing guitar in the song "I am a Carpenter." Which he is.

(You can click on any photo for a closer look.)

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