Tuesday, December 4, 2012

365 Jobs: Custom Electric Mandolin, Old Growth Redwood Closet Trim

December 4, 2012

It's a simple closet, 3' wide and 2' deep.  I'm adding shelves and re-painting because — in my empty nest — I'm re-purposing my son's old bedroom into a sewing room/guest bedroom. 

My son Will, who is now 30, left his favorite bear behind, along with a couple of instruments he built.  That's an electric guitar on the left with the humbucker pickup and Will's version of a sunburst finish.  It's the second guitar he ever built (at the age of 13).  On the right is an electric mandolin which Will built as a seasoned old luthier at the age of 18. 

The mandolin is unique, an experiment built as a senior project in high school for which he received a B minus for some bullshit reason.  Not sufficiently challenging or something.  CHALLENGING?  I mean, jeez, at high school, how many kids design and build their own one-of-a-kind electric mandolin?  I think actually Will got the B minus for being, at a prestigious academy, the only kid with dreadlocks, just as the police used to stop him for Driving With Dreadlocks.  I confess, he did look sort of like a pineapple.

Will didn't care about the B minus, but he was never satisfied with the instrument's timbre or the sheer weight, so here the custom-built mandolin sits in my closet.  I'm damn proud of it.  And proud of my son, who likewise is one-of-a-kind.  (Here's a sample of his music, if you're interested.)

But I digress.  This is a post about a closet.  Specifically, the closet trim.  In 1979 I salvaged a pile of 1x12 siding from a garage that had been built around 1932.  After de-nailing, ripping, planing, sanding, staining, I had these lovely old boards for the cost of a few sanding belts plus days and days of hard labor.  Some of that lumber was old-growth redwood with tight vertical grain. 

I was totally poor back in 1979 when I was building my house, so salvage was an economic necessity, not a philosophy.  (Now — these days — like James Adams, salvage is my creed.)

And here's the thing: 34 years later, as I'm prepping to repaint the interior of that closet, I stick my head in there and discover that I trimmed the inside.  I mean, this isn't a walk-in closet.  Nobody was ever going to see it from the inside.  I could have simply butted the drywall to the jamb or used some of that thin cheapo trim like they use in the tracts (when they use trim at all).  But no, I used my lovely salvaged ancient redwood where nobody would see.  Not the best pieces, apparently, as you can see from the wide grain and from the knothole at the top of the vertical casing.  But, still, each piece was precious for the perspiration that went into it.

A pleasant surprise.  Here's proof that 34 years ago I was crazy enough to bring beauty to the inside of a closet that no one would see.  And then I'd forgotten all about it, just as Will has forgotten about that insanely beautiful mandolin that he built with such care, such pride, such goofy hair.