Same ingredients, different flavor

Mr. Beer - the finished productWhen I’m not woodworking, writing about woodworking, raising kids, teaching people about hurricanes, fixing problems around the house, doing laundry… wow, I really am a busy guy… I like to do some home brewing using my Mr. Beer system.

Ahh, yes, after a hard day of doing what I do, I love nothing more than to crack open a cold brew that I made myself and decompress. There’s nothing quite like sampling what I have had to wait a few weeks to become the final product.  The anticipation kills me, but it makes that first sip so much sweeter.

Ya know, beer is pretty amazing stuff.  You take four ingredients – malted barley, water, hops and yeast – and you can create hundreds of different beer varieties.  Rich, malty Octoberfests, clear refreshing pilsners, dark and brooding stouts.  Roast the malt a little longer, use different hops and try a different strain of yeast, and suddenly you are looking at a totally different style of beer. The varieties go well beyond what you can find in a convenience store.  In fact, the proliferation of microbreweries has shown your average beer consumer about the incredible selection of styles from around the world.

What’s this got to do with woodworking?  Plenty.  No, I don’t want you to drink and go into the shop to work.  Maybe you can handle a broom, but that’s it.  No more.

However, by manipulating the basic elements of woodworking – wood choice, joinery techniques, hardware choices, finishing decisions – you can take a mundane project and do some interesting things with it.

Two mantle clocksHere’s exhibit ‘A’.  This is a basic architectural clock design that came from Wood magazine.  It can be built in an afternoon or two with a small pile of scrap wood and a battery operated clock movement.  Ho hum, right?

Simply changing the wood I used to build the project changed the entire appearance of what is essentially an identical piece.

Yes, both clocks are identical.  The same amount of wood. The same clock movements.  The same joinery methods.  However, you would be hard pressed to call the finished products identical.  In fact, I call these clocks fraternal twins – alike but different.  The light one is maple with a cherry face,  and the other one is the opposite.

The key here is to take your time when choosing the wood for your next project.  It can have a dramatic effect on the final outcome.  Whether you want to showcase a particularly handsome piece of wood or you want the item to blend in with the background, your decision on what you choose to build will play dramatically in the end.

Hey, I’ll drink to that!

2 thoughts on “Same ingredients, different flavor”

  1. In the glorious dialect of Homer Simpson, “Mmmmm beeer”. I had a Mr.Beer kit, the one that looked like a rootbeer keg. Sadly I never used it and it was lost in a move. I am going to have to start brewing one of these days, AL selection is terrible and capped at 6% alcohol content. That’s a far cry from the 10-12% barley wines available in CA where I am from.

    What were we talking about? Different ingredients? Nah, let’s talk beer some more 😉

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