Over at Lost Art Press, Chris Schwarz has been talking about “vernacular furniture,” or “furniture of necessity,” which is furniture that, while hand-made, is cheap and simple to construct using a small tool kit.
For example, when my oldest daughter acquired a box turtle (thanks to her father’s inadvertent destruction of its native kudzu habitat), it fell to me to build it an outdoor terrarium.
It had to be built and installed quickly, as the turtle was getting restless in its temporary home: a laundry basket. No time for dovetails, drawbored mortises-and-tenons, or floating panels.
I screwed together some 2X10s and made a frame lid out of 2X4s. The fanciest part was the lap joints I used on the lid. I painted the whole thing to match the house, installed hinges and a handle, and set it in place. The hardest part was getting the chicken wire in place. I came away with quite a few scratches on my hands and arms, but it should be raccoon-proof now.
Now that it’s done, my daughter is happy, and as far as I can tell, so is the turtle. And that’s what the “furniture of necessity” is really all about–keeping the women happy.