My trip to enlightenment

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by MakingScraps posted 03-08-2010 06:53 PM 982 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Ok, so my last post was a little dramatic. I’m sorry. I had done some work on my workbench and I was blaming my tools and society for the poor job I was doing. I am still a little young and hotheaded (oh sure, like you weren’t) and getting started with woodworking has been very overwhelming for me. For some reason I expected to create a masterpiece right out of the gate. I expected to be able to spend a couple of dollars on basic tools and begin pumping out the designs I had in my head and sketchup. Well that hasn’t worked. There is just so much information out there on every topic of woodworking that trying to keep all of the details straight to make sure that I got it right was starting to feel like I was digging myself into a hole I couldn’t climb out of.

Then I went to the Woodworking show in Reading PA over the weekend and I drastically changed the view of the progress I am making.

One person can make a difference

The woodworking show itself was great. There were vendors and education seminars that touched on many aspects of woodworking. As a hand tool woodworker I spent most of my time attending Graham Blackburn’s demos of hand planes. He was simply amazing. His witty delivery and incisive commentary on cultural phenomenon is reminiscent of Roy Underhill but is still a style uniquely his own. He was extremely patient when answering the questions of this novice and his simple techniques and principles helped to soothe my overstimulated brain. The most amazing thing was that after all of the years he has spent as a woodworker, his excitement about the craftsmanship and quality tools was still visible and easily spread among the crowd. He helped me see that I didn’t need the top of the line tools to start out and that my delusions that everything had to be complicated were unfounded.

A new beginning

I had to look back to see the future clearly. I have been slowly building my shop and creating the tools I needed to start building projects. Barring my upcoming saw purchase, the last few pieces such as the shooting/trimming board and the bench clamp will complete the basic tool set for making simple cuts and miters. I have a renewed interest in simplifying and honing my technique and taking my time throughout the project. I am still excited about woodworking and (almost) every time I work in my shop I am smiling the whole time. I just have to be careful not to let the excitement get the better of me and make me rush through things.

A solid plan

I know what I have to do now. I need to spend less time on the computer and more time in the shop. Since there never seems to be enough time I need to be patient and know that I will get done what I need, just maybe not as quickly as I would like.

And remember, although it might not seem like much, talking to someone who knows what they are doing is worth more than a month’s worth of google searches. And for all of you master craftsmen out there creating wonderful pieces; thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge and helping to keep this amazing trade alive.

2 comments so far

View John Stegall's profile

John Stegall

513 posts in 3716 days

#1 posted 03-08-2010 08:00 PM

It seems like you have developed a very sound plan. Perfection is a never achieved dream for almost all of us. Progress comes a lot more quickly than we realize and almost any project, regardless of how complicated, can be broken down into manageable steps. In fact, regardless if you are working wood, or trying to achieve anything else, the same formula works.
You will be jiust fine!

-- jstegall

View stefang's profile


16130 posts in 3534 days

#2 posted 03-09-2010 12:06 AM

I read somewhere that in trying to master anything there are four stages to becoming competent;

1. You don’t know what you don’t know. This is why a beginner would think he can turn out masterpieces right away.

2. You know what you don’t know. Now the learning process can begin because you know what to focus on.

3. You now have learned the theory side of the work but you have to carefully think through every process as you do it to get it right.

4. You have become skilled enough to carry out the work in a way that doesn’t require a lot of thought to get it done correctly.

Of course you have to apply these principals to each tool and each technique and that can take quite awhile, but one of the joys of woodworking is constantly learning new things all the time and turning out better and better projects as your skills progress.

So it sounds like you are in stage 2 now John. I wish you success and happiness on your woodworking journey. Remember too that with each skill you master there will be relatively few others with that knowledge

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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