In a hidden monastery, far from the prying eyes of a suspicious public, a great and strange sharpening monk spent his days. He sharpened chisels, he crafted brilliant pieces of furniture, and he doled out nuggets of wisdom whenever someone was unfortunate enough to be within ear shot. There are a few, myself among them, who believe that he was not crazy, but wise beyond most people’s grasp.
He used to say, “Hone your senses as you would hone your chisel.” He would often follow this up with, “Hone your tools as you would Honus Wagner.” It is these sort of statements, that left all but the most ardent woodworkers or Pirates fans, checking their watches and stammering something about the time, being late, and needing to be off.
But if you watch him work, if you paid close attention to how he used touch to gauge the flatness of a board, or sight to start his dovetails or even his hearing, to tell him when his saw wasn’t exactly cutting the way he wanted, you knew that he might be onto something. This monk, this wise and charming man, would mark his boards, check his measurements, and then look at them one more time. On occasion, he would cock his head to one side, then measure again, and find that he had made an error. Sometimes just the slightest error, but he would always catch it, before he cut.
I asked him once, how he did this, how he always seemed to sense that something was awry. He said, “I have trained my eyes to smell a bad fish.” To which I replied, “Wow, look at the time, I think I am supposed to be…” and backed out of the room. I liked him, but on occasion, he was too cryptic for me.
I was thinking about this wise old sharpening monk today, when I discovered a wonderful online game. A game that I believe will sharpen my sense of space and proportion. I believe it will improve my eyes ability to ‘smell a bad fish’. I think he might have meant ‘to see something fishy’, but I didn’t think of that at the time. Of course, he may have just wanted to be left alone, and drove me away. He was very wise and crafty, but I digress.
It is called the eyeballing game. http://bit.ly/dhPhwI I think that it will appeal to woodworkers. I feel that if I am better able to see a 90 degree angle, or visualize where 3 points would meet in space, then I will also be able to ‘smell a bad fish’. This will make me a better woodworker, or at least that is my theory.
So my question of the day is this. What is your score on the eyeballing game?
I would love to know what people think about my theory. Does it have merit? Do you think that if one improved this skill, they would make fewer errors?
Wait a minute that is three questions. Oh well, that happens sometimes. Enjoy and please leave your score. My best is 2.91, though I just tried again, and I got 3.2. It is very fun, and very addictive.
-- Brian Meeks, http://extremelyaverage.com