So I’ve been doing a lot of “twiddling” in the woodshop lately and have realized I’m not really getting very far. I make a lot of the same things over and over because I’ve gotten good at them. And that’s ok. But I did not get into the hobby of woodworking to make one or two things really well. I got into it to be creative and have fun, etc.
Lately, I’ve been honing my hand tool skills by practicing chopping dovetails, dados, planing, sharpening, etc. But that’s all I’ve been doing is practicing on scrap. I realized that I need a project to work on to really get good at anything at all. I’ve got to be willing to do a project and screw it up to learn how to really do the techniques. In short I need to be willing to make firewood or to make smaller projects out of the rejected larger projects.
I’ve also basically decided that I really enjoy using handtools. There is just something about feeling the wood move under your hands that is kind of interesting and odd. However, I also know that I don’t have the patience of Mother Theresa to do whole projects by handtool alone. So I know that most of my handtool work will be to finese and make the project come together better. It’s really the end project that I am after not necessarily the means to the end. I like woodworking and it’s a hobby, not something to get my tail tied in a wad about. I want to enjoy it and not pressure myself to be the best dovetail maker overnight.
So this is what I’ve decided to do. I really enjoy making small boxes and blanket chests. So I’m pulling out my three favorite books tonight on boxes and I’m going to pick a project from each one and work on those. Going to take my time and if I screw up the first one—- I’ll do it again until I’m satisfied. And I’m not going to berate myself for not being the best box maker ever – but I will enjoy the process, learn a little each time and only be unhappy with myself if I quit trying. After all, I’m not trying to make a living or even extra income off of my hobby – I’m supposed to be enjoying it.
So Lumberjocks——- is there anyone else out there like me that gets frustrated that they are not as good as they want to be and try to do more than their skill levels allow instead of learning by steps instead of leaps and bounds.
I’m going to go back to project based learning and see where I go from here. I’m also going to make myself vunerable by trying my best to post pictures of my projects as I am making them so I can get feedback and encouragement from you all. So here’s to making woodchips!
-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine