Perhaps the most talked-about presentation at Woodworking in America this year was Adam Cherubini’s talk on nailed furniture. Adam’s thing is period furniture. And his point was that the majority of furniture built a couple centuries ago was not elaborate highboys or Chippendale chairs. Most of it was, Adam says, simple pieces that could be built quickly, with simple joinery and … nails (Gasp!). He went on to suggest that with the current popularity of simple cheap furniture the esthetic could be popular if we’d just get over the stigma we associate with nailing things together. And for a weekend woodworker like myself building this way would have the benefit of being much quicker than the projects where we knock ourselves out taking the time to do “fine” woodworking.
So a couple weeks ago, in the Sunday paper there was an article about little free libraries. Jen saw it and said, “I want one of those for my birthday,” which was five days later. I decided to build one of these as fast as I could, which meant building like Adam said it is ok to do.
I already had a box of cut nails. So I got a couple pine boards from the big box store, and I had the shell of it done and painted by her party that Friday. My one goal was to work fast, and it turned out well. I couldn’t figure out how to build the door frame with nails and still have it hold the plexiglass. So I used mortise and tenons on that. But the rest of the library is built with only Tremont cut nails and butt joints. It’s plenty solid. This is a fun experiment for me because I tend to over-design and over-build things. If it doesn’t get crushed by a snow plow I’ll be interested to see if it loosens up after a couple years of freezing and thawing.