Things Unseen ...

I came across this great quote from Steve Jobs about craftsmanship, “When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

 Oops, I used plywood for the back of this credenza. Would Steve Jobs buy it?

Oops, I used plywood for the back of this credenza. Would Steve Jobs buy it?

This is the basic challenge of craftsmanship--is the standard perfection all the way through, or is the standard some measure of "good enough and done."?  I have a project right now where the client has asked me to complete some unfinished woodworking left behind by a beloved uncle. They want to match his standard of craftsmanship. Does anyone's woodworking stand up to being examined with a magnifying glass? I have been looking closely at the fit of miter joints, pin nail holes, veneer bedding, and many other fine points of craft.

In the end I think the point is that quality and care should go all through a piece. The bottom of the box should be finished with as much attention to detail as the showy veneer panel on top. This element of craftsmanship is not a question of skill--you showed you can do it on the show face--it is a question of heart, the willingness to put a little extra in to the work.