William D McQuain
Senior Instructor, Department of
Current Teaching Fall 2017
Current Teaching-related Activities
My real extra-curricular enjoyment lies in woodworking. This probably
goes back to the Brooks quote below. Here are a few of my completed projects.
- Platform bed -
I designed and built this in 1982, while I was
working at LSU. It's simple joinery of redwood 4x4 and
2x4 stock, held together with carriage bolts for easy
disassembly and moving (I was driving a Ford Fiesta in those
- Fish puzzle
- this took about 4 hours to cut, based on a pattern from
Wood magazine. It was my first major piece of work
using a scroll saw and aniline dyes.
- Hyperbolic candlesticks - these were a neat little bandsaw
project using cherry wood. The cutting took only about
20 minutes apiece; the sanding and final shaping took
- Potting bench
- a more recent project, a modified implementation of
a pattern from Wood magazine. This probably took 80
hours, spread over about two months during the summer.
The wood is all cypress; the top is sheathed in galvanized
- Crib V0 and
V1 - cherry and
walnut crib for our first grandson (and later our second).
- Toddler car
- a toy for our first grandson, now possessed by our
granddaughter. Mostly made from bloodwood (Brosimum
paraense), with ping-pong balls trapped in the wheel cages
just for fun.
- figured ash and a bit of curly maple,
for our third grandson (and later our first granddaughter) (crib is done, he's under
construction in this one)
Inspired Bed - figured cherry, with a bit of walnut and
a bit of ash. This took several years from design,
wood acquisition and rough milling, breaking some tools, and
final tuning. The interesting thing was doing this in
a 12x16 shop when the side rails are about 7 feet long.
First is the
sheer joy of making things. As the child delights in his mud pie, so the
adult enjoys building things, especially things of his own design.
Second is the
pleasure of making things that are useful to other people. Deep within, we
want others to use our work and to find it helpful.
Third is the
fascination of fashioning complex puzzle-like objects of interlocking moving
parts and watching them work in subtle cycles, playing out the consequences
of principles built in from the beginning.
Fourth is the
joy of always learning. In one way or another, the problem is ever new, and
its solver learns something.
Fred Brooks on "Why is Programming Fun?
The basic truths in all teachings
of mankind are alike
and amount to one common thing:
to find your way to the thing you
feel when you love dearly,
or when you create,
or when you build your home,
or when you give birth to your
or when you look at the stars at
The soul is dyed the color of its
thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and
can bear the full light of day. The content of your character is your choice.
Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you
become. Your integrity is your destiny...it is the light that guides your way.
Last updated: Wednesday, January 17, 2018