My woodworing ideas and tips #17: Tearing it down to put it together... just a musing

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Blog entry by Betsy posted 08-15-2009 07:24 AM 1717 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 16: Keeping track of that pesky little part and a little sanding tip Part 17 of My woodworing ideas and tips series Part 18: Pattern routing and using carpet tape »

This is just a little rambling on my part – trying to make a little sense of something I stumbled onto that has helped me a bit in my woodworking adventure.

Recently, I’ve been reading lots and lots of “feel good” books and books on how to lift your own spirits and those warm fuzzy books and articles to help a person get a grip on things. After my accident, I allowed everything to turn very negative and blah in life. So I decided to turn that around and just inundate myself with positive, uplifting and bright things. Whether you believe in that sort of thing helping or not, is not important. All I can tell you it has helped me 100% turn myself around and get back on the path of feeling good, being good and being fully alive. It’s gotten me back to exercising, losing the excess tonnage I put on, I’m not on any medications, my diet is healthy again, I smile more, I’m more helpful to others around me, my job is going so much better, I’m having the time of my life with friends and family, etc. etc. – you get the picture.

One little thing in all that has really given me a different look on my woodworking was a question on how you look at things – that question was – “what do you really see?” When I look at a set of plans I see the lines, the measurements, etc. I don’t see the little things among all those lines, etc. I’ve found that if I study the plans in depth step by step its a whole lot easier than just looking and seeing it. Now let me explain the “in depth” part.

Sitting there at your computer – pick up any object on your table, anything at all. Now put your computer aside and pull out a piece of paper and a pencil/pen. Study that object and start writing down everything you notice/see about that object.

For example—- I just picked up my TV remote and this is what I see:

1) it’s rectangular
2) it’s gray on the front
3) it’s black on the back
4) it’s skinny – 1.5”
5) it has 4 colors of buttons
6) it has round buttons
7) it has square buttons
8) it has rectangular buttons
9) it has numbers on the buttons
10) it has lettering on the buttons
11) it has lettering on the body
12) it has little arrows on the body
13) it has little rectangles on the body
14) its has words on the body
15) It has a Westinghouse symbol on the body
16) the Westinghouse symbol is round with a “W” in the circle
17) it has 54 letters on the body
18) it has 10 numbers on the body
19) it has a battery compartment
20) it has two double A batteries inside
21) It has two little stub feet on the back

on and on, I could probably come up with 10+ other things to list. Do you see where I’m going? If you are starting out on a new project, one you’ve never done before, and if you can tear each step, and each diagram apart piece by piece and really see it for it’s essential simplicity – you can make anything you want! Everything that looks complicated really isn’t if you can break it down into very small parts.

Now understanding your project plans in this depth——is one thing—carrying them out is another. But there should be no reason that you can’t carry out anything that you’ve studied this in depth. You just have to break down each step of the physical doing in the same way you broke down the studying. I think it will really slow down the process – but I also think that you’ll learn more, enjoy the process more and most assuredly enjoy the finished project more.

I’ve been doing this on a couple of projects that I’m working on now – one in the shop and one out—- and it’s helping me to really see and understand what I’m doing.

Just my rambling – but I hope this gives you something to ponder.

As always, thoughts and comments welcome.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

8 comments so far

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4090 days

#1 posted 08-15-2009 08:12 AM

Betsy that makes so much sense that it’s scary. Seems like that approach to life would make all that we do seem easier and we would end up with better results. I plan on adopted your philosophy and see what happens.

Happy to hear that you are on the mend and life is back to normal.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 3455 days

#2 posted 08-15-2009 08:53 AM

Fantastic outlook to have. Thank you for reinforcing the positive in all things.

I understand what you mean about breaking things down to step by step simplicity. That is something that I inherited from my dad. He was never one to just “jump in” to something. Allways wanted to anilyze and study what he was going to do BEFORE starting. It took a LONG time for me to see how much this really helped the process in the long run. Now it is something I do every day.

When I am at work or the drive to and from, I am going over in my mind just how I want a project to turn out. Breaking it down to step by step on what has to be done first, second, etc.. and HOW each step must be accomplished. ( of course, haveing a split personality helps to multitask)haha I will be explaining things to my wife(who knows almost nothing about wood working) just to here it out loud and see weather it makes sense or not.

I also seem to talk to myself at work when I am reorganizeing the wharehouse, or display area, etc.. it helps to break it down when I can here it out loud. (trust me, I get a LOT of comments about the talking to myself)

Anyway…...I just wanted to agree with you holeheartedly about the keep it positive and think it through. If all you are doing is one small step at a time, there are very few limitations on what you can accomplish.

The biggest concern for most things is SAFETY . Make sure that you allways work safe and things will work out. Maybe not the first time, (wait for my segented turning) But with practice and positive thinking, you can do it.

Thank you again for the encouragment and the forsite to look ahead to bigger and better things.

Glad you are on the road to recovery.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3964 days

#3 posted 08-15-2009 12:42 PM

Betsy it is great to see you writing again. Having written computer programs for well over 30 years I’m familiar with breaking things down into small components. The difference you bring out is attitude. Instead of looking at what cannot be done, the focus is on what can be done. It’s a great perspective and great advice.

-- Working at Woodworking

View patron's profile


13606 posts in 3366 days

#4 posted 08-15-2009 01:07 PM

thank you for this reminder ,

we do get off , sometimes ,
it’s good you are showing a way back .

!- what do you want to do ? – the sky is open here .

2- what can you do ? – the door is open here .

3- what will you do ? – put some wings on those dreams and prayers .

enjoy !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3780 days

#5 posted 08-15-2009 05:22 PM

Thanks, Betsy.

Seeing the “smaller” parts really does help conquer the larger ones.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Vjeko's profile


135 posts in 3439 days

#6 posted 08-16-2009 07:42 PM

Hi Betsy,
It’s always good to stop and sharpen the axe before continuing
cutting down the forest and this type of thinking that you’ve done
helps a lot to get the axe very sharp. Your thinking immediately
reminded me of the old “how do you eat an elephant – piece by piece” ;)

-- Vjeko Balas - Croatia

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3602 days

#7 posted 08-22-2009 10:37 PM

Thank Betsys for a whole new prespective.
David thanks also

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3920 days

#8 posted 08-23-2009 05:52 PM

Thanks for reading. Hope it helps in some small way.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

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