Possibly one of the most enjoyable and tiring jobs in the woodworking world is checking for twist. There are few things in life that bring me the same level of calm as methodically selecting 6ft Douglas Firs and checking for twist in the wood aisle. I sound incredibly boring, I know. But I’m OK with that, and I urge you to be too.
Checking for twist isn’t necessary in some areas of woodworking, but for building furniture it’s essential. A twisted board looks something like a banana and will ultimately make your bench look like a curly fry. I know what you’re thinking – those sad little twisted ones get left behind. Don’t worry, they don’t, they get used for something eventually, just not benches.
Soon after my father and I launched our company I was at the store getting some more supplies. I had looked down the narrow edge of about 40 boards to see if the lines were straight, and headed to the checkout with my 6 selected planks. A man in the line next to me leaned over and said one of my boards looked like a banana. I was mortified. He then continued to tell me that I should always check the boards for twist before buying them. I told him I had already checked the boards, and quickly lined up the wood so he could see there was no twist. He looked impressed. I did not. I felt flustered. I reached the checkout in a mild sweat. The woman at the register asked me what job number it was. No one had ever asked me this before. I told her I wasn’t sure what she meant by that, and didn’t need one. She shot me a confused look. More sweating. She leaned forward and said “You should ask your boss when you get back, he’ll want one next time”. I laughed awkwardly. Not a great decision. She didn’t understand why I had laughed and now I just looked rude. I quickly blurted out another awkward laugh and said “I own the company, so I’m pretty sure ‘he’ doesn’t need one.”
Silence. Even the crickets were quiet.
She looked up at me and handed me my receipt. I left the store feeling deflated. I wasn’t angry, they were just trying to help. I confused them, and all I wanted to do was fit in.
I’ve realized over the years that, sometimes, people have a little twist in them too, and that’s OK.
We’re not meant to be benches.