“When you have completed 95% of your journey, you are only halfway there.” -Japanese Proverb
I need to remember this proverb whenever I approach the end of a project. I find that there are two finish lines when it comes to my tasks. The first finish line is where I start to feel good about what I have accomplished and the second one is where the project is actually completed. This is certainly the case for my workbench. It was, actually still is, my first project. The day that I successfully attached the vice to it, I passed the first finish line. I started to use my workbench and paid no attention to the shelf that wasn’t complete.
Today I awoke determined to add that shelf. I dreaded this part of the project for one reason. I would need to flip the bench over to attach the shelf. This one little dread had kept me from this task for a couple of months. So I started the day, with a little chisel sharpening, as a warm up. Best to get some good woodworking mojo going I figured. 30 minutes of warm up and I was ready. I headed downstairs and cleaned off the top of the workbench and then measured.
There is an old adage that you should measure twice and cut once. I always do this. Today I succeeded in misreading the tape measure exactly the same way twice. Every once in a while I look at my tape measure and just get it wrong. Today my tape measure was clearly telling me that it wanted me to write down 45 and 5/8ths inches. I had the 5/8ths correct, but for some reason I looked to the right of the hash for the inch number and went with 46. The terrible thing is that when I checked my measurement I did the exact same thing. So I was off by an inch for the length. In the end, it didn’t matter, but I hate making such a silly mistake.
In the interest of practicing my Japanese handsaw skills, I cut the width down by hand. It took me fourteen and a half minutes. I was cutting through ¾ inch MDF. Being curious, I decided to time how long it would take me to set up and cut the length with my Bosch circular saw. I have very little experience with my circular saw, so I need the practice here as well. I bought it about a month ago and have only made a handful of cuts. I have a replaced the Bosch blade with a Freud. The cut took me a total of 6 minutes and 30 seconds to clamp the board, mark the cut, clamp down a guide, and actually do the cutting. I am sure that most competent woodworkers would do this in a minute or two, but I am still a little bit frightened by my circular saw.
The board was now the correct dimensions. I needed to only cut out the notches for the legs and then I would be ready to flip that heavy beast over and attach it. Cutting the notches turned out to be a perfect task for my Japanese hand saw. The only problem with my new saw is that it has a piece along the top to stabilize the blade. This limits its capabilities somewhat. I turned to my other, much lower quality, saw and it worked marvelously. I received a tip from a reader of a previous post. He suggested I cut from below the wood and pull the saw towards the ground. This worked marvelously and I was able to cut quickly and accurately. Learning this trick has made me a better woodworker. Thanks.
Turning the bench over was much less of a pain than I imagined. I attached my shelf and flipped it back over. After centering it in the room I stepped back and was giddy. There was only one thing left to do. I would clean up the cases of my Bosch router and DeWalt drill and then put them on the shelf. I just couldn’t put them on the shelf in their current state. Now I actually keep things pretty tidy, but both cases needed a good scrubbing. One thing led to another and I was in the garage cleaning each of my tools. I made great progress and took enormous joy arranging them on the workbench shelf. I cleaned for a long while, and I would estimate that I got it 95% of the way done. I will do the other half tomorrow.
-- Brian Meeks, http://extremelyaverage.com