when i got into the shop, i finished cutting and sanding the walnut keys i'd started on several weeks ago. they finished up a gratifyingly clear shade of walnut after two coats of waterlox. this took only 30 minutes and, once done, left nothing between me and a large glue-up. gluing up is always a harrowing experience, more so the larger the piece to be glued -- the more area to cover with glue, fit, and clamp, the more work to be done in essentially the same amount of time. legend has it that the glues used in the distant past (as long as twenty years ago) dried so quickly at room temperature that glue-ups had to be undertaken in small, well-heated rooms filled with scurrying carpenters. these days, modern glue technology gives us more time in which to mess up but this never exceeds several minutes.

reading about it makes gluing up a large board seem deceptively simple, the kind of exercise one might undertake of a lazy sunday afternoon. in making a large board out of several smaller ones, the mating edges must be as closely-matched as possible and, ideally, a spring joint (an infinitesimally-shallow hollow) cut in the middle regions of each mating face. once this state of grace is achieved, glue is applied to the mating edges, the components boards brought together, and clamps applied to just enough pressure to cause some (but not all) the glue between the boards to seep out. idyllic-sounding, but this sequence of events actually necessitates at least two people squirting glue and smoothing it out before it congeals to a uniform thickness on 432 inches of board-edge. once glued and fully attached (standing the boards on edge lets gravity do the job), clamps are applied: even pressure at 6-inch intervals alternating over and under the board, for a total of 14 large clamps. with celia, george, and john doing most of the work, and amy and ward looking on and clamping, the entire production took on the aspect of a barn-raising for a very small, flat barn. it's also astonishing how blindingly-obvious things are left undone in the heat of the moment: to take just one example, spreading newspaper under the boards before glue-up.