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Issue 448

Stain Waxing Eloquence

Rob-Portrait351My screed on stain last time out brought many responses (see the Feedback section), but none to compare with this epic effort, courtesy of Lee Ohmart of Brewer, Maine:

“To stain, or not to stain, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to enjoy
The inherent beauty of naked wood,
Or to take up stain to bring a noble appearance,
And by applying them end them: to bring a gentle metamorphosis.
No more; and by a stain, to say we end
The nakedness, and the thousand Natural shocks
That wood is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To bare the wood, to relish,
To relish, perchance to achieve perfection; aye, there’s the rub,
For in that nudity, what chatoyance may come,
When we have sanded to 600-grit,
Must give us pause. There’s the toil
That makes endless sanding of so long endurance:
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of stain choices,
The critic’s judgment, the master finisher’s critique,
The pangs of despised blotchy results, the inevitable Law or Murphy.
The insolence of customers, and the Spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might covet the perfect stains of others
With flawless finishes? Who would bear the burden
To grunt and sweat under an endless choice of stains,
But that the dread of something ugly resulting from poor application,
The undiscovered stain, from whose bourn
No woodworker returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus choices of stain does make Cowards of us all,
And thus the Native hue wood
Is sicklied o’er, with the wrong stain,
And enterprises of great woodworking skill and design
With this regard their courage turns away,
And lose the name of Action. Soft you now,
The fair goddess of woodworkers? Salve my soul.
Be all my sins remembered.”

Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal

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