Why do you do what you do? #1: Why do you do what you do?

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Blog entry by Cozmo35 posted 08-10-2010 04:02 AM 5866 reads 2 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Why do we do what we do? Is it because we want to impress others with our skill. Is it because we secretly desire the attention? Is it because we are artistically hungry to express ourselves? I have often thought about it myself. Long before I even thought about cutting my first piece of wood, I put pencil to paper for many years. After many years of trying to figure out why I “create”, I am starting to get some idea of why I create the things I do. For me personally, I think it is because my imagination runs constantly. I spend the majority of my time thinking about things that I can create as opposed to actually creating it. I believe that a peak into my thoughts may scare the timid. Without a guided tour, it is possible to get lost in the cavernous recesses. My imagination far surpasses my skill. But, without imagination, everything would be only a copy of something else.

So,...I ask, why do you do what you do?

-- If you don't work, you don't eat!.....Garland, TX

23 comments so far

View DocK16's profile


1184 posts in 4141 days

#1 posted 08-10-2010 04:46 AM

We’re all like Stuart on Mad TV saying “look what I can do”

-- Common sense is so rare anymore when you do see it, it looks like pure genius.

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 3581 days

#2 posted 08-10-2010 06:15 AM

I do what I do because there is something inside me that has to create, build and go beyond that which I know. To show others what I have done is my way of encouraging them to try things that they have not tried. As the journey in life, the hardest thing to do is walk through the front door and take the first step. I am never afraid of failing, but I am very afraid of never trying…

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3096 days

#3 posted 08-10-2010 06:44 AM

I have the need to fix things, create things, and learn new things. I have done a lot in my life, this is the new thing to learn. It takes so many skills to be able to create from wood, it is a never ending experience, at least for me. It is a personal fulfillment for me like most things in my life, I have no need to impress anyone but I do use and enjoy constructive criticism.

View janice's profile


1117 posts in 3480 days

#4 posted 08-10-2010 12:51 PM

For me it is personal fulfillment. I don’t come home from work, sit on the couch and turn on the TV. If I’m not building something I’m painting something. I love to be creative. Sometimes I wish I didnt have a job so I could do what I want to do all the time. I know, be careful what you wish for.

-- Janice

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 3450 days

#5 posted 08-10-2010 01:18 PM

Making something new (I dislike applying the term Create to myself) is simply caused by this:\

I must.

I certainly enjoy sharing the results with other people, but the fact is, if noone else ever saw my things, I’d still have to do it.

It just has to come out.

I can’t stop it.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3163 days

#6 posted 08-10-2010 01:18 PM

There are a variety of reasons for my interest in working with my hands. I currently am employed in the IT field and most of the work I perform is solely a mental exercise. I can work all week and not see anything change in my environment physically. Mental exertion without it being coupled with physical labor exhausts me and leaves me wound at the same time. Even if I go downstairs for a couple hours and just cut some boards, I can see the results of my labors and I have exerted much of that mental energy physically and I can sleep well.

Intermixed with this is a practical side. I grew tired of shopping for furniture or household items that I know are made of MDF or chipboard with a thin veneer coating. I know that what I can afford will break within a fairly short time. I grew tired of throwing things away, the frequent waste of our culture, and wanted to live differently. If I can’t take the time to make it, then I don’t really need it all that bad. Makes life a little more simple.

Good question,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View EEngineer's profile


1110 posts in 3668 days

#7 posted 08-10-2010 01:38 PM

A really interesting question…

“look what I can do” – naw, that’s external validation and really has little to do with my motivations. I think more like the tagline from one of the video productions houses (don’t remember which right now) – “I made this!”. Along with it comes a sense of wonder and accomplishment that not only did I make it, I did a pretty good job of it, too.

There are a thousand little things that I have made that I will never post here; things that I don’t think anyone else would be interested in, are rather trivial or that just solved what I had considered a pain in my butt for several years until I finally figured out a satisfactory solution. But every time I happen to notice them again, I look at them and go “I made this!” and it makes me happy.

I don’t do woodworking for a living (check my handle). One of the things that gripes me most about my job is the inevitable compromises that come along with schedules, deadlines and the need to make a profit. In my shop, I don’t have those. I can and have torn things apart that were half done and started over when I thought of a better way to do it. I don’t always have that luxury at work.

I could be described as a “tool junkie”, but I honestly don’t collect tools just to have the tools. I always see what new thing or new technique would be possible if I just had that one more tool… In fact, almost always, the next project after a tool acquisition is one that will use the capabilities of that tool. I am always happiest when I am learning and doing something new (see my tagline).

And there is just something therapeutic about snorting sawdust. Any problems or concerns in my life just look so much smaller and more manageable after a few hours in the shop.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2974 days

#8 posted 08-10-2010 01:39 PM

From the time I was 7 or 8 and my neighbor showed me how to crochet and embroider, I loved to make things. I love to try new things and make things that are creative and pretty. As I got older, I found that teaching others to create was also very fulfilling. I was amazed at seeing the difference in someone’s demeanor when they successfully made a project. This fueled my need to teach because I enjoyed seeing this so much.

As a designer, I feel as if each project I design is a mini-lesson. Sometimes when I am cutting it out or painting it, I go over in my head how I will explain how to do it in the instructions. Everything is broken down into steps in my mind. There is nothing so exciting to me as seeing the moment when someone ‘gets it’ and the look on their face. They sit a bit taller and you can sense that feeling of pride they have and in a small way it makes me feel like I contributed something positive to someone’s life.

Nothing feels better. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View SPalm's profile


5321 posts in 3936 days

#9 posted 08-10-2010 02:17 PM

Good post Cozmo. I think about why after I am done thinking about making something. I have never come up with the answer to why.

I love to design, which is why I am never bored. Leave me alone for a few minutes and I will start thinking about how to solve some problem, or build something new. This leads to a rather chaotic output, but I love it. Those around me like the final product when it happens, but get a little frustrated watching my journey.

I try real hard to keep woodworking as a hobby. At this point in my life I am able to do that. I just love it, and will steal any time that I find to work at it. One trouble that I have is that it is I do it alone, which means that I don’t spend time with the family when I do it. I try to keep that in balance, but find that part is one of the most frustrating aspects of it.

Now if I can keep my weird sense of humor under control, I might be able to survive.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3091 days

#10 posted 08-10-2010 03:51 PM

Because I can.

If you can do something and enjoy doing it, it would be a waste not to and it hurts to suppress yourself.

I design and make things initially from ideas in my head or things I’ve seen or done or want to do. I get great pleasure from turning those ideas into reality through the use of my mind, tools and hands. Nobody needs ever see what I do or how I do it for me to get some pleasure out of it but I find the fun is increased again if I share it with others who might enjoy it too. People who want to share what they do as well. In this way the ideas build and diverge in all directions. Everybody wins. We all get a piece of things we may never have seen or done. The things we do have value and worth outside of the purely financial.

In another way I am compelled to do what I do because of the way the human mind works; create, strive, improve, enjoy, prevail, leave a mark to say you were here. These are all features of the mind.

We have a limited time to do all this. I am by no means physically unwell but I grow older every day. I can’t do some things I used to find easy. I have learned to do other things I would have never thought possible if I hadn’t actually tried. Tried and failed. Tried and succeeded. Learnt. I need to get it all done before time runs out. There always seems to be more to do, more to acheive and less time. If the world ended tomorrow you would find me at my bench making something. With some vain-glorious idea in my head that if it were all ending I could hold up my hand and say ‘wait a minute I haven’t finished yet’.

I am a human being. We do what we do. Sometimes just because we want to.

Now its someone else’s turn with the soapbox.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4301 days

#11 posted 08-10-2010 04:35 PM

I started young with a friend drawing. We used to draw race cars and I don’t know how many remember RATFINK he was an emblem on many race cars. Racing, I’m talking about street racing was big when I was young. But we drew other things and became very good at it. We could sit down and draw anything at any scale almost exactly the same. We were the go to guys in high school to make all the big banners for the Gym and later made some signs after high school. I used to make things, swords, knives, bows and arrows out of wood when I was 12 or 13 and they looked like replicas. When I graduated I went to work in a factory, I got layed off a lot and a friend worked as a rough carpenter put me to work on his crew. We could through up a house on a long weekend, and thats when it hit me. What great satisfaction to build a HOUSE in a weekend, and a nice house at that. Windows, doors, roof not shingled, but ready for shingles and siding sometimes, T1-11 was big back then so you could`side it while making the walls and raising them. How cool was that, it was a sense of pride and there were only three of us. I was hooked on woodworking, the following step was in college to take art and sculpture classes. Then I got drafted, I got out, married, Kids I did a little woodworking, rough and finish carpentry mostly, but some other stuff, then I found Lumberjocks, and the old bug bit me again, the creative bug. I wanted to make things that were nice to look at. I don’t know why I haven’t done much sculpture, I love it, probably because it’s so hard in wood. The end.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2995 days

#12 posted 08-10-2010 08:17 PM

To satisfy this urge inside me to create. I simply must, I don’t know why and I don’t care!

When one does artistic work, the act of creation is important, but the artist needs an audience as well.

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3091 days

#13 posted 08-10-2010 09:02 PM

I wish I could have put it that well, Div.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View MrsN's profile


986 posts in 3580 days

#14 posted 08-10-2010 11:54 PM

I have a need to create. Sometimes I just need to make something. Sometimes making sawdust is enoughm sometimes I need to create something more artistic. I also have a need to try new things, a “can I do that” kind of thing. I love learning new things. I also do enjoy the “look what I did” aspect, but I would create with out that part.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18314 posts in 3730 days

#15 posted 08-11-2010 07:40 AM

I can’t do a lot of things I used to do for variious reasons, so moving on to a new interest or becoming more active in it. I really gave up on these kinds of questions long ago; what is beyond the end of the universe? Hubble just proved, more universe!! Why are we here? Obviously to work wood! :-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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