Gotta Crack a Few Eggs

While he was helping me make my latest egg holder, my Egyptian classmate—the exquisite carpenter—shared the fact that, where he grew up, people kept chickens on the roof. He also showed me how to clamp a block along the back of the drill press to keep an even axis as I drilled the holes for the eggs.

On this egg holder, I went for the full dozen—just in time, too, as my hens are waking up with the spring sunshine. When it comes to egg-holder manufacturing—which, frankly, I never thought it would come to, but here we are—I’m much faster now at figuring the math and using the saws to get a clean, evenly distributed line of egg divots. The guys in class make fun of me. But they also help. I suspect even they find something rewarding about improving the design and execution with each iteration of a simple project. Wax on. Paint fence. Make egg holder.

Today’s innovation came in the form of a “relief cut,” which, to this mother of three, rings painfully close to “episiotomy,” but is actually a groove cut in wood to release tension so it doesn’t twist. My 12-egg holder is about 18 inches long by 1 3/8 wide, so you can practically hear the pine trying to spiral.

Our instructor suggested I make a couple relief cuts in the bottom, adding that, if I was careful, I could lower the wood onto the blade of the table saw, then push it forward and stop before I got to the end, so the blade would never break the end planes and the cuts would be concealed.

This sounded like an elegant plan, and I started off well enough, initiating the relief cut about an inch into the bottom, so it would be invisible. But in the treacherous seven seconds or less that it took me to push the wood across the jagged gauntlet of the table saw, I was so laser-focused on not losing any digits that I spaced out and carried the wood all the way over the blade, breaking the end plane of the egg holder. Dammit.

The only solution was to go back and make the relief cuts come out on both ends, so they’re consistent. I will never look at that dozen-egg podium without a twinge of regret, because those visible relief cuts are the results of a mistake.

On the other hand, I still find each trip across the table saw modestly terrifying and consider each successful pass a personal victory, so why would I want to hide a single cut? Why not wear a relief cut like a stripe of pride? Come to think of it, the first thing I showed my family when I brought the egg holder home was the relief cuts.

My egg holder fixation is a work in progress. Each attempt teaches me something new. I can make my next egg holder—a baker’s dozen, perhaps?—with invisible relief cuts, because I learned from this mistake. The question is, do I want to?

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