As I think back, every time I bought a new tool it was in the hope that this tool would be the one that would make sure that every cut, or hole, or edge, or…whatever, would be perfect. I wouldn’t have to worry about ruining a perfectly good piece of wood. Every project I had pictured in my mind would be easily translated through my hands and my new tool into a work of art. Yet everytime I opened the box, and set up the new tool, I found myself making the same timid steps forward. I would cut something, not quite perfect, or square something…almost…and get that same fear of failure, or imperfection, and quietly walk away.
I suspect many of you know what I’m talking about, all us perfectionist with crystal clear images in our head that we don’t start for fear of ruining the vision. I bought my table saw almost 10 years ago and it really got very little use until recently…until I started to ignore the fear, accept that perfection would not come from starting, but from patience and practice.
As per my previous post, I recently built and Adirondack Chair. I won’t say I completed it, as I still have a few more screws to cap and the whole topic of finishes scares the “Cr*p” out of me, but I built it, and you can sit in it and it is comfortable and only I know all of the things that are wrong with it…though a few things are obvious…hard to hide it when a template slips on the router. But I did it and I can say that I learned a ton in just building that one project.
That little success led me to face my next fear…remember that tablesaw? When I bought it, I got a dado blade set with it…never even opened the package until about a week ago. Now I’m more than half way through building a nice rolling cabinet. Cut some dado’s and a couple of rabbetts and what do you know it is pretty close to perfectly square and it’s all glued up and I put the wheels that I bought a few years ago on it and it rolls around really nice and all of a sudden I have a little more working space.
For the past few months I’ve had visions of boxes in my head. I have a book or two on the subject, but there was that old fear…I have some scrap wood, but I would need to resaw it and I know what the plans say, but that’s not the vision I have in my head. So the other day I switch out the blade on my band saw to something a little more suited to resawing and made a few marks on the edge of a squared up board and started to cut. Problems started almost immediately, I was using a fence, but the blade kept tracking at an angle. So I gave up on the fence and free handed the board into 2 and 1/2 pieces, before I realized that I could slide the guide blocks forward on the saw so they stabilized the front of the blade and not the back. All of a sudden, the blade is tracking much better, even free hand…who woulda thunk it!
As I work through the vision that is my box, I realized that I wanted a top that has some dimension to it and it occured to me that the scrap of purpleheart that I have lying around makes a wonderful contrast to the hard maple I resawed for the sides of the box. So tonight, I set up the fence on the bandsaw and made a nearly perfect resaw cut of that purpleheart which should joint and plane up much easier than the boards for the box sides.
As I do, I watch…as I watch, I see…as I see, I learn…as I learn, I get braver…as I get braver, the fear begins to shrink. Oh, it’s not gone. It will linger, probably forever, as I gain more experience but it is no longer keeping me from my tools. I can make mistakes, just look closely at my chair, but instead of being discouraged by them I am learning from them…you will have much more trouble finding the imperfections on my next chair…the wood is already roughed out.
Thanks for listening…more pictures soon.
-- Chris N, Westford, MA - "If you won't eat something from your fridge that turned green...why would you eat something that started out that way?"