One afternoon at the school wood shop at Santa Fe Community College,
one of the instructors shouted out, “Mark, what kind of wood do you
have on the work bench? Is it ash?” I said, “No, it’s elm.” I finished
my milling and went back to the bench room and took a look at the elm
board from several feet away. He’s right, I thought, that elm looks
attractive from a distance.
The instructor’s comment immediately brought to mind the day at home
in my modest shop that I had looked over at the two elm boards, and
asked myself why I had purchased them. I finally got around to making
a cremation urn with it, as it matched well with the glass I was
planning to use as a sliding glass lid.
After I built the urn, I applied an oil finish, which made the colors
of the elm pop. I subsequently sold two elm urns to the funeral home,
which they, in turn, sold to their customers.
That’s some of the magic and beauty when working with wood. Long-
standing boards are waiting for the right moment to be made into