A few years back, I took an introductory woodworking course. I actually found it very frustrating, because I was impatient to get my hands on some tools and learn the skills of woodworking.
The first four weeks were spent designing our projects. Now I am certainly not against designing, but I didn’t sign up for a design course – I just wanted to make something. But the instructor insisted that it was better to make my mistakes on the paper, rather than with wood. And he was correct to a great extent. I think I generated as much eraser dust as I do sawdust. But I just wanted to make something.
Then the next four weeks was spent making a scale model of my ‘design’ using pine. As my project was an end table, I convinced the instructor I should make it full size. I enjoyed this exercise, but found it terribly frustrating. I didn’t want a pine end-table. I wanted one in Walnut. I’m not convinced the prototype taught me anything, other that I didn’t like the table. So perhaps that was a worthwhile step – in fact, I decided that I wouldn’t make the table that I had ‘designed’ – actually it was a copy of tables I had seen, so it’s probably not fair to say I designed the table. After all, it differs in no detail from your average table.
Well, eight weeks later, by the time I had finished the prototype to which I did not apply a finish, I ran out of time. It shouldn’t have taken so long, but I wasn’t motivated to make a piece of pine junk. When I argued with the instructor that I simply wanted to purchase a set of plans and build something, you’d have thought I was about to commit the unpardonable sin. And every time he looked at me after that discussion, I felt his disdain. I’m sure that he thought I was some lesser form of woodworker – perhaps a sawer’s helper or something.
But now I’ve been at this for a few years, I realize that good quality workers of wood often, if not usually, build prototypes. My buddy Philip Edwards does.
So, here’s my question. How many of you LumberJocks build prototypes before committing to the final project?
-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/