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Labor of love to span generations
PERU- Quaking Aspen (a.k.a Poplar). Paduke. Cherry. Birch. Beech. No, this isn’t a lesson on how many various types of wood can be named, but a look into the species of wood Norman Deroche used to build his son Oscar a secretary desk for his 16th birthday.
You see, Norman is known to build unique furniture and wanted to do something very special for his son’s birthday.
One day late last spring, Oscar made a comment to Norman, “You make crazy nice furniture, dad.”
Norman noted, “That’s where the idea came from. I just thought about making him something functional and practical that he would always have.”
Norman decided on a secretary desk because of its’ functionality (a bureau on the bottom and a desk on top).
“From that point on I wanted the design to be related to something Oscar enjoys, which is guitar,” stated Norman.
The idea for the 16 various species of wood was something Norman had done before.
“I made a jewelry box for the daughter of a friend. I also have made three cradles for family and friends, each with nine different types of wood, for each month of pregnancy.”
Not only was Oscar’s desk built with 16 different species of wood, but Norman used 16 as his magic number.
The desk has 16 screws per drawer on the lower section, 16 flutes on the legs, the two middle drawers are 16 inches wide, the fold down writing surface is 16 inches deep, the strings on the neck are at a 16-degree angle, as well as the tuning pegs. There are 16 screws in the writing surface (hinges and hold down brackets), the space for the laptop is 16 inches wide, as well as the drawer above it, and there are 16 spaces inside the desk.
Norman had most of the wood in his shop.
“Over the years friends have given me wood of various types as gifts. All of these people have been important in my son’s life, as well. For instance, the cedar was collected at Baxter State Park this past summer, where we go with our good friends each year.”
When asked how long it takes him to design his works, Norman noted that the design takes on a life of its’ own as he is building. This particular work of art took approximately 150 hours to complete.
Included in the desk for Oscar to appreciate in years to come, was a list and legend provided by Norman as to what was incorporated into the desk.
The list includes the names of species of wood, who provided them and where they came from. Specifically, the Ebony was carried from Kenya by friend, Kaiya Korb. The walnut was cut and milled by Norman in Massachusetts. The ash was cut from the Deroche property and was also milled by Norman. Others who contributed wood for the desk were family friends Ashley O’Brien, Jim and Diane Gallagher, David Porter, Ed DeRoche, Nick Waugh, Tammy Mawhinney, and Ellery and Edie Porter.
Norman noted that Oscar’s response to the desk when he received it was surprise and stated, “I’m really impressed with my dad’s work.”
As for the future of the desk, Norman hopes “Oscar uses it and enjoys it to the fullest, and passes it on to his kids.”
For more than 20 years now, Norman has been a carpenter. He loves to work with his hands.
“I’ve always been good with my hands. I like working with wood and cars. It’s all about the journey of creation. I find it relaxing to make things by myself.”