O’Neal Jones

The “eureka moment”

One of the challenges in a woodshop, in addition to safety first, is the task of making sure I use as much of the raw material I bring into the shop as possible.  Air dried lumber from a barn, whole logs from a backyard, kiln dried lumber from a retailer all make their way into the shop over the course of each year.  Much of it goes to the larger work I’m commissioned to do for people’s homes like shoji screens, sideboards, beds, chairs, tables, and general cabinetry.   The commissioned pieces use about 80% of the lumber.  I am then left with a plethora of leftover wood in various shapes, sizes, species, and colors.


This is the point at which  small, but significant “eureka moments” occur.  As I gaze at the jumble of lumber, I start to formulate how they can merge into a meaningful  sculpture or piece of furniture.  Sometimes it may take days of taking in the content of the jumble to make any sense of it and sometimes the thought of the possibilities comes very quickly.   However long the process of formulation occurs, there always seems to be a  micro-breath of time in which the great syzygy of form, function, and beauty aline themselves and I know what those 17 or 71 leftover pieces of wood will become.  It’s an “AHA!” moment….It’s an “elementary,  my dear Watson” moment…….It’s a “light bulb switching on above your head” moment…….It’s my “eureka moment”.    The original idea may be altered as I proceed through the building process that follows with woodworking techniques I have learned and honed over a 40 year woodworking career.  But it’s the “eureka moment” that supports it all and I look forward to keeping my mind open to let in the next one.


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