Furniture project part 7: The pursuit of perfection.

So here’s the thing.

I finished the top of the case a couple weeks ago. The only thing I have to do now is the finishing part and putting it all back together. I haven’t yet because I need a tack rag (which I know yes, I can make myself..) and I need a couple of foam brushes (no brushmarks, yo.). But I’ll get to that. What I wanted to talk about really, is this point. This point in any project where all that’s left is the finishing. and once the finish goes on, you’re kinda stuck with what’s underneath it. So you’re looking over your project and NOW, this moment, is the one where you’re looking at it with a super critical eye to see if there’s anything you should do over again. You’re looking for something that needs fixing. You’re looking for flaws.

Don’t get me wrong. There are times when things really should be flawless. Those times certainly exist. If you’re making a new piece of furniture, custom, from scratch, for sale. Flawless is good. But recycled furniture is not about flawless(neither, btw is restoration.) It’s just as much an art project as a design project, if not more so. You need to be able to see those flaws, own them, and for the most part, unless they’re minor touchups, be able to let them go.

This is really, really hard for some people- self included, though it’s even harder for people who are very detail oriented. They get lost in the bark of the tree, when the forest is all around them waiting for them to get on with and over themselves.

“Oh SURE, it’s easy to say that- it’s not your project with all these errors and mistakes in it… You’re a professional!”

But it is. And I am. And I’m going to prove it.

So we have this project, right? You’ve watched as it’s slowly come together over the summer. Okay, great. And now we’re at this moment. The one before the finish, where if you’re going to fix something, now is the time. Other than minor touchups? I’m not fixing the following things:


I’m not fixing the fact that this mosaic circle is cup shaped, when it should be flat. This is the result of the chisel not being sharp enough.


I’m not fixing the fact that this “circle” is supposed to be round, and isn’t. (see: chisel.)


I’m not fixing the evenness of the grout on the right top quadrant of this circle.


I’m not fixing the fact that this circle isn’t flat.


There’s nothing wrong with this one. Actually, it’s near perfect, which illustrates how imperfect those others are.


I’m not fixing the fact that the purple circles are splotchy, and the black is darker and less painterly than I’d like.


I’m not fixing the fact that that drawer up there? Looks different than the door front below:


Or that this side:


Is not like that side:


Because perfection simply isn’t necessary here. Flawless isn’t really important (though I would love to get a flawless *FINISH* on these, I know better. I have cats.)

So I’m going to get some brushes and a tack rag and forgive this piece (and its maker) their flaws. No one else was ever going to care about them anyway.



  1. Well I, for one, think it looks great. Here’s to being unflawless.

  2. I understand you completely! Here’s my story. I redid my bathroom and hired a tile guy to tile all the walls. He was very strange and clearly didn’t know what he was doing, though the resume looked great, etc… For example, he wasn’t “used” to old construction. So when the end cap for the corners wasn’t fitting perfectly, he decided to mitre the wall tiles thus creating a razor-edged corner! Just the thing you want to slip against when you’re naked in the bathroom.

    Needless to say, he was fired. But I kept as much of the job as I could so I didn’t waste all the tile (this was my own project, so I’m cheap). Now when I sit in there I stare at this little area where everything isn’t perfectly squared. I don’t think anyone else would notice. But I guess it was the trauma of what could have been, combined with my perfectionist’s streak.

    Your table looks splendid. No one would ever notice that the things you pointed out (so that now we will!) weren’t intentional. It’s a cool table. But I understand the “vision” thing completely.

  3. Heh heh…been there, done that, got a drawer full of T-shirts…the important fact is, it’s a beautiful piece.

    Besides, you’ve got to have a flaw or two so the gods aren’t jealous.


  4. I *REALLY* need to make a post that shows the last of this one- it’s been finished for months.

  5. […] Furniture project part 7: The pursuit of perfection. […]

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