Furniture designer and builder Bob Passaro submitted this bench for a design critique. Bob poses that age old question that every artisan wrestles with. Like many of us he wonders what he might do differently if he built another. I often pose the same question. When to stop and leave well enough alone? Do you ever stop questioning, experimenting, and playing? I also wonder how many versions did the masters go through before they brought a form to it’s conclusion? It’s obvious looking at the work of the Townsends and Goddards in Newport that their work evolved and changed not just with the styles of the day, but also within those styles. You can definitely see a progression as they perfected a form.
Your input on this is appreciated. The following are Bob’s comments –
Here are two images of a simple bench I built several years ago while
I was a student at the Northwest Woodworking Studio. I have many
opinions of my own about this piece. Some things I like, some I don’t.
I’m going to keep them to myself for the moment, till I hear what you
Since the day I finished this piece, I have wanted to build another
version and try to refine the parts I feel didn’t quite work. In fact,
I have some pieces roughed out, sitting in a corner of the shop till I
work out exactly how I want to approach this on the second go-round.
And I would love to hear others’ thoughts as I try to figure that out.
I’m not going to have a thin skin about it, so please feel free to be
By way of background, this idea came to me one evening while I was
having dinner with my wife at one those restaurants that uses big
sheets of plain white paper as table “cloths” and leaves a jar of
crayons on the table. So while we were waiting for our food, I drew
the essence of this design in crayon on the table. I think I ended up
tearing the piece off after dinner so I could take it with me.
— Bob Passaro