Saturday, January 31, 2015

Display Frame found... 25 years after it was made!

For much of the period 1983 - 1994, I was working as a woodcraftsman in the beautiful Augusta-Margaret River area of Western Australia. We lived in Augusta, the most southwesterly town on the Australian continent, just 5 miles north of Cape Leeuwin, where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean.

Over that time, I did a huge variety of cabinetmaking, joinery work, furniture making and carpentry for many people throughout the district and even around the world via gallery sales and commissions. While we moved 200 miles north to Perth at the start of the new millennium, I still have a strong connection with Augusta, as my parents still live there as do my eldest son with his wife and family.

Most of the family gathered at Augusta for the Christmas/New Year period again this year, so I was back in town for a few weeks over that time.

As usual, on a Saturday morning I went along to the Leeuwin Lions Club's big Op Shop to check out the bargains along with the holiday crowds. In the furniture section I came across some jarrah pieces with threaded ends.
Those threaded ends looked very familiar...
"Hey", I though to myself, "I remember making a bunch of furniture held together that way. I wonder who else has been doing it over the years?".
Then it hit me. "Hang on a minute, that looks very familiar, I think I made this!" I said to myself. "But there's something missing!" I hunted around in the shed and found the end pieces which received the threaded rods. Putting it all together in a pile, I realised that all 16 pieces were still there. Totally amazing! There was some water damage to the old polish, as it had obviously been stored on a verandah or in a leaky shed somewhere, but it was all there and in otherwise reasonable condition!
All 16 pieces were still in existence!

My grandson Jasper was intrigued with the assembled frame.
Then I recalled I had made this piece for a local leadlight glass artist some 25 years ago, and here it was spread around in the used furniture section of the Lions Op Shop.

My resulting conversation with the shop attendant went like this:
"How much do you want for this?"
"Make me an offer I can't refuse".
"How about $10?"
Laughter. "No way, it's unique."
"Ok then, suggest a price I can't refuse".
"You'll never find another one of those. How about $20?"
"Done! I know I'll never find another one, as I made it!! I reckon it was about 25 years ago, I made it as a knockdown adjustable display stand for a leadlight glass artist in Karridale about 1989/90!"
More laughter as he scratched his head. "Well I never... that's the first time anyone has come into here and said they made something that's in here - and then bought it back!".

Having paid the $20, I bundled up the bits and pieces and loaded them into my ute. He was still marvelling and telling others about it. I drove away excitedly as memories flooded back.

The frame was made to be adjustable and portable. "Knock-down" in fact. There are two sets of  spreaders, enabling the display of two different set widths of sashes housing the leadlight windows.
The top spreaders could be moved up and down depending on the height of the sashes to be displayed. The sashes were hung on traditional mirror movements, allowing the leaglight windows to be tilted to best catch the light, and there were two different height positions on these.

The whole thing was held together with jarrah nuts which were wound onto the threaded ends protruding through the side frames. It is quite rigid when assembled.

I remember using a traditional wooden thread box to cut the threaded spindle ends, and a matching metal tap to cut the threads through the nuts. I also recall making a few furniture pieces for sale through some galleries at the time, as I went through my "wooden nut and bolt" construction phase!

I was a very happy boy as I drove away from the Op Shop that day. I had forgotten I had made this unusual piece, and I had plans for its new life.
...Yep, I was like the cat who got the cream!

I have some work to do to clean it up and put it back into service for displaying my own stuff in festivals and workshops, so watch this space for future developments!


  1. Good to see that your craftsmanship has stood the test of time Greg.

    BTW...Australia went metric in the '60s so what's this "miles" you speak of? lol


    1. Well, Geoff, I'm old enough to be empirically bi-lingual. I think and work in both metric and imperial. Normally I try to use both in my blog, as my biggest readership is in the USA - who have the same Imperial feet and inches as we used to have here. I do a lot of work on old houses, old joinery and old furniture - all of which were made in Imperial measurements. It can be very handy to be bi-lingual!
      Mind you, there are some who might say I'm in a bit of a time warp. I can live with that...