The Desk

After teaching a week-long class in woodcarving at Woodenboat School, it’s sometimes hard to say goodby. One year a group of us extended our mutual tour of duty with a trip to Liberty, Maine. We visited a cluttered tool store: Captain Tinkham’s Emporium. The store is a sort of tool Mecca for woodworkers. Looking for a set of feathering planes for fairing out lapstrake planking? Try the Captain’s. Looking for some specialty gouges or chisels? It’s a great place to start your search. Even if you don’t find what you are looking for, you will find something you want.
And so it was that Saturday while my students and I spent a full half of an afternoon browsing.
What I found was not a tool; it was a desk. It was a drop front oak secretary. This sort of little desk was seen all over at one point. The particular model I was sitting in front of started life as a reward from a shoe polish company. My former father in law, the Cap’n had won it for sales of Shinola shoe polish as a boy in coastal Maine. It had graced the back corner of the living room. From the adjacent window, you could look down into the cove and watch the 34-foot Ketch Psyche swinging at her mooring. Reaching up to the bookshelf, my hands could almost feel the 1941 edition of Bowditch that I used to study, the Coastal Pilots from places in the Pacific, and the thick book of navigational tables. The cubby holes were empty, but my mind could fill them as they had been with receipts for work on the ketch. Over the desk, I could see the framed Master’s certificates.
Then my students came in a rush to show me their purchases and make suggestions for a late lunch before hitting the road.
On the way out, I took one last look at the desk, turned and went home.

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