Who Is It Really for?

RalphBagnallI start thinking of my Christmas gifts ahead of time. Giving shop-made gifts does require a bit more advanced planning. One of the things we woodworkers really need to decide early on is who are we making the gift for.

Several years ago, I decided to build my wife a lingerie chest for Christmas. It turned out wonderfully. All cherry, raised panel sides, and the drawer fronts were cut so that the black sap swirl surrounded the brass pulls. And I tried my hand for the first time making cabriole legs. I challenged myself and was quite happy with the results.

Christmas morning comes along. The lingerie chest is standing proudly next to the tree, the first thing she saw as we went to open presents. Oh, she liked it well enough, but it just did not make the impression on her that I had hoped for.

Later, I realized what went wrong. I built the lingerie chest because that’s what I wanted to build, not because it was what she wanted. The gift was aimed at the wrong person.

The next year I did better. We had acquired a huge antique hall mirror at an auction. It was not mitered but had corner blocks with rosettes. With it we had bought a few unmounted beveled mirrors as well. That Christmas I presented her with a cheval mirror and stand that was matched to the hall mirror. I recreated the frame profile and corner blocks. This time, I stopped her in her tracks as she saw it standing next to the tree. I had made a gift for her, not me.

Posted in: