Skill building

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Dale Robinson posted 04-10-2008 11:09 PM 1060 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I haven’t blogged in quite a while but I do visit the site pretty regularly. It seems that everything one does requires a really steep learning curve. I’m the kind of guy that just wants to go do things. Of course, I know that if it was easy, there would be no pride of accomplishment.

Lately, I haven’t been able to get to the shop as often as I would like but I am hell bent on building some nice small decorative boxes.

I go up to the shop. decide what I am going to do and work on the project until I get frustrated and then go back the next time and start over or at least from my last successful endeaver.

I WILL BE A COMPETENT WOODWORKER SOME DAY. It’s tht simple. Have ony of the rest of you gone through thsi sam frustration. I wonder how many people have just given up.

I’ve been a guitar play for 44 years and I have reached a certain level of competency in that area and that happened by repeated efforts. Is it possible that some people should just never get the hang of it?
Should I sell my shop tools and take up Knitting? I plan on being back in the shop on Saturday and Sunday. We’ll see what happens.

Oh oh, This didn’t go where I thought I was going when I started.



-- Dale, southeast Misouri

6 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3787 days

#1 posted 04-10-2008 11:24 PM

Hi Dale,

I get a sense of where you are going. To answer your question, yes people have gotten frustrated and given up. It is easy to do. As a personal example I cannot competently cut dovetails by hand. I have tried many times and, while some improvement has been seen, my results are currently not very presentable. But I am stubborn enough to keep trying. Making a mental commitment and keeping a positive outlook is a big step in improving any skill, whether it be a mental and/or physical disclipline.

We may not all become master craftspersons but we can raise our level of competency through practice, practice, practice. If it comes easy then it probably isn’t worth the effort.

Hope this helps.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3710 days

#2 posted 04-10-2008 11:27 PM

Dale, never give up. I’ve been playing the guitar for about 35 years, enough to get by with. Can’t read music, always transposed songs into easier keys, etc. About 2 years ago I started playing on the Church’s worship team. We have one of those guitar players that can hear it for the first time and turn around a play it. I’ll never get to that point, but I sure have learned a lot in the last 2 years about playing the guitar.
The same goes for wood working. If you’re worried about wasting expensive lumber, just buy cheap stuff or pick up scraps and such. If what you make doesn’t turn out, toss it and try again. Pick a certain procedure of wood working and practice it until you’ve got it figured out and move on to something else. You know the drill. Just make a certain joint, dovetails, mortise and tenons, lap joints, etc. until they are good. You don’t even have to build anything, just keep cutting them until you got it figured out. Just like playing the guitar, a lot of this is just muscle memory anyway. Hang in there, Buddy, this site is for advice, and you can get all that you can stand.

View DannyBoy's profile


521 posts in 3831 days

#3 posted 04-10-2008 11:53 PM

Take a similar approach as you probably did with guitar. Don’t jump right in to playing lead to “Smoke on the Water”. Start with a little I,IV,V 12 bar blues, get that down, then up the difficulty. Also, go to the books that have projects with specific skill building processes (like a Mel Bay scales book for guitar). After a while, you’ll develop the good habits that you need.

-- He said wood...

View Paul D's profile

Paul D

2131 posts in 3714 days

#4 posted 04-11-2008 02:38 AM


I’m right there with you and what I’m finding is that my lack of patience tends to get the best of me. I see such incredible things being made by folks on this site and others, watch Norm and David Marks make some great things and then I get to the shop and can’t seem to make a jig square the first time …... I also think, just maybe, that there are woodworkers who have a specific focus like turning or carving or building mission furniture and after the nth time of doing something it starts to become second nature. I’ve spent most of my woodworking doing scrollsaw work like fretwork & intarsia. I’m pretty decent with those skills but now I want to make something more substantial. I’m starting to see that for me the only way to get good at some of this is to make sawdust even if in the end it goes in the trash. My biggest problem is lack of focus. I tend to want to try and make a mission-style-mortise-and-tenon-scrollsawn-carving-thingy-magiggy when perhaps I should be trying to make a piece of wood 4 square and be able to do it in my sleep ….

-- Paul D - Lawrenceville, Georgia

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 3751 days

#5 posted 04-11-2008 02:44 PM

I agree you cannot give up! I have tried to be a wood worker for years. I seemed as I became more comfortable with my tools and began to be able to see the projects in a finished state in my mind. I have never used plans or have drawn things out before I began.
I have been told the ability to see a finished project is a gift but it comes natural….maybe I’m lucky.
The problem was to get it to look how I wanted it to look. Now days I spend most everyday working in the shop on cabinets or someother project for a customer. I make a living in my shop and couldnt be happier.
I often wonder if I should get paid to have so much FUN!
Ya gotta love it!

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View Dale Robinson's profile

Dale Robinson

33 posts in 3878 days

#6 posted 04-11-2008 03:37 PM

Thanks for the comments and encouragement. I regret sending this message. I regretted it as soon as I hit the send button. Usually when I write a negative post that will be posted anywhere online, I write it and then wait at least an hour, sometimes a day before sending it. Usually, I just delete it. I have vented and don’t need to bother anyone else with it.

I did get some enoucragement from the replies though. And interestingly enough, working on a joint was what led to my frustration. Not a dovetail but I just couldn’t cut it so that it fit tight. I think working on the small boxes require much more accurate work than some of the larger projects I have done. Anyway, I’ll be back in the shop Saturday and practicing the cuts.


-- Dale, southeast Misouri

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics