For those of us who do this professionaly we often are forced in a sense to take on projects in a style or wood species we would usualy NEVER make or work with in our own time or by our choice. For those who do this as a hobby this is an even bigger issue. You are doing this for pleasure and for your own satisfaction, so why then would you want to build something you dont like or think is pleasing to your eye?
The answer to this is very simple. To round yourself better as a woodworker.
My favorite style is contemporary furniture and If it was my choice this would be the only style I would ever make and I would excell at it, so what is the problem? Would I ever learn to cut and carve a cabriole leg? Would I ever learned to bend a serpentine sideboard? Make greene and greene style furniture and execute the cloudlifts and unique joinery? No Never.
My favorite wood is highly figured Maple. If I made all my furniture out of this wood would I ever have learned what a bear Wenge is to work with? Or that I am allergic to spanish cedar? What about how beautiful black Limba can be when finished right despite its outwardly not so great appearance. Once again the answer is no never.
One of the hidden gems of woodworking can be not only going outside your comfort zone and trying new techniques which we all must do but it is also trying out styles we may not be particularly drawn to or woods we normaly dont care for. By trying out different styles, styles out of your “style comfort zone” you unlock the ability to learn new techniques, face new challenges and one of the biggest things, you open a can worms by creating problems. In my oppinion (Feel free to dissagree) the best way to learn something is to do it and fail. How do you know what to do differently and effectively if you dont fail? For those of you who are lucky enough to take classes and learn from the masters this might not be the case but for those of us who are self taught and neck deep in the business and for those of you who love this craft but dont have the meens to take classes this rings true.
By trying new styles you will encounter problems with woodworking you might never have faced elsewhere. Encountering these problems and problem SOLVING through them will greater equip you as woodworker for whatever the future holds.
With wood this is the same idea. Finishing each one is completely different. Milling, cutting and shaping each one is totaly different. The amount of sanding and technique of sanding changes. And one of the biggest things for me would be trying species out. I HATED the look of Walnut on furniture and hated trying to apply finish to it so I avoided working with it. Then I was asked to make a Walnut side table. Of course I needed to get paid so I had to do it. This resulted in me developing a relationship so to speak with finishing Walnut as well as a respect for how beautiful it can be. It also gave a knowledge of a different wood for me to store in the bank.
Trying new styles and new woods can open tons of doors for you as a woodworker and makes you better rounded and equiped. From a joy standpoint it can leave you with even greater satisfaction knowing you have conqured a different mountain then you have before. Who knows maybe you will find a style and wood you love that you didnt even know you did! So go out to your shop and start planning a new piece.
-- ~ eandscarpentryandwoodworking.com ~