This wood was recycled out of an old bridge somewhere in Northern California and was expensive when I bought it several years ago. The bolt hole is 3/4″ across, with the surrounding area heavily blackened from contact with damp steel. This bolt hole is now in a cabinet door, part of a new tincture cabinet I am finishing up this week, a piece made primarily of recycled old growth redwood.
This redwood is remarkably fine-grained. I just put a tape measure on the board with the hole and counted 23 annual rings in the space of one inch. Redwood like that is a rarity today.
I thought briefly about cutting around the knot, but that would be wasting not only a bit of expensive material but an aesthetic opportunity as well. So the bolt hole is a feature in the door. However, it seemed practical to fill the hole, so I plugged it with a dowel. One thing led to another, and I painted the dowel in a bright blue-green color, inspired by the color of some tinted epoxy I was using decoratively elsewhere in the piece. But my wife and creative partner Evelyn convinced me that my bright blue-green dot stood out too much, and we wound up adding a wood button in the center, so that the effect of the unusual color is more subdued.
Wood like this old-growth redwood has a unique charm. When I came to lay out this cabinet, the pieces I had available were originally from several different beams, and as it happens there are at least three distinct color shades in the redwood. I used this variation consciously in the overall composition of the piece, and I think the color variation only adds to the piece. Making this piece had two opposing sources of pleasure: the pleasure associated with interesting pieces of wood, and the pleasure in making a new thing out of them: the object you found and what you do with it.
On a different subject, I had an unexpected moment of admiration for a skilled craftsman the other day. There is a tailor in downtown Napa named Mr. Cervone, and recently he altered two pairs of new jeans for me, which I had not been able to buy in the right length. He made them 2 inches shorter. I looked carefully at the hems; you can’t tell the pants didn’t come that way, at least I can’t. I am envious of his skill. At $15 a pair he can’t be getting rich, but he seems like a happy man.