From wood butchery to wood workery #1: Learning how to learn in wood

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Blog entry by Woodbutchery posted 04-05-2009 07:07 AM 1186 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of From wood butchery to wood workery series Part 2: Fortunate Accidents | getting things done »

I find myself caught up in the act of doing, many times to the detriment of a project.

I look at the projects that are done on LJs, and I want to learn to do them, but then I start a project and get so taken by the idea of completing the project that I don’t take the time to do the project well. What I end up with is usually something serviceable, but often not of the quality of work I aspire to.

They say that acknowledging a problem is the first step in resolving the problem. If that’s the case, then I am at the door and ready to start on the path to learn to work wood rather than hash at it.

I have power tools, no hand tools. While I probably will want to involve myself with using hand tools down the road, I think I should concentrate on learning to fine-tune and use the tools I have before I try to install yet another skill set

So. I finally made a zero clearance throat plate for my tablesaw, after having had it for over two years. I have yet to actually TUNE the saw, though my cuts are pretty good. I still have the fence that came with the Jet saw, which I got before they went to the Beysermeyer fence. I built the cabinet that housed the saw and router together, andit’s serviceable. I need to build a fence for the router table portion.

So the next project is benches for the back porch. My wife doesn’t want anything too frilly – something to sit on, and she doesn’t want a back to these. I’ve come up with an initial design, something sturday and easily made out of 2×4s. And while it’s relatively easy, I want them to look good too.

My plan? Work slowly. Take my time. Breathe deep when I feel like I need to rush through the project, and try to learn from it.

Meanwhile, I come to LJs for inspiration. The chance to see what CAN be done with wood.

-- Making scrap with zen-like precision - Woodbutchery

6 comments so far

View woodnut's profile


393 posts in 3472 days

#1 posted 04-05-2009 12:34 PM

I find myself doing this on projects that I just can’t seem to get into. I just finished a big bookself 8’ x 6’ and form the start I just didn’t feel the project. so when I was making the case I was almost bored with it then when it came time to build and install the face frame I really started to get into the build, you know thinking about it when at work, what the next step will be, how will the joinery look, so sometimes it can also be the project.

-- F.Little

View douginaz's profile


220 posts in 3422 days

#2 posted 04-05-2009 02:48 PM

Yea buddy, I feel your pain – I too suffer from this type of malady. I think part of my problem is the sanding and finishing, I hate to admit it but I’m just not good at it. I know in my heart that both are just as important as building, but my brain wants to move on to the challenge of the next project. I wish I had some words of wisdom but I’m in the same kind of boat. I wonder if they have one of those cute little acronyms for it? You know like RTB = Rush to Build – or some such thing. Good luck dude, know you are not alone.
Doug in AZ.

-- If you need craft books - please visit our small business at

View Woodbutchery's profile


289 posts in 3006 days

#3 posted 04-05-2009 02:57 PM

For me it’s not being bored with the project, it’s the desire to show a finished product, most times at the expense of the quality of the product. And it’s not like I’m selling these things, they’re for local consumption (wife, step daughter, friends, self).

For what its worth, this translates into other hobbies as well.

So, I’m going to try taking a barbecue approach: low and slow and steady, and see if, first of all, I can, and whether it improves things.

-- Making scrap with zen-like precision - Woodbutchery

View 8iowa's profile


1540 posts in 3181 days

#4 posted 04-05-2009 03:10 PM

Through the years I’ve had projects that I wasn’t very happy with. Often the problem was with parts that were not flat or square, or the joinery was not very good. Some of my best tool investments have been a good set of accurate squares, and a dial indicator. I now have a saw blade that is “right on” with the miter slots and fence.

Tip: Construction grade lumber usually has a relatively high moisture content. Pick through the stack for the straightest boards, and then allow them to “shop dry” for a couple of weeks, or even longer in humid weather. If you buy them and immediately start cutting you could encounter warpage that would ruin your project.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View woodsmithshop's profile


1250 posts in 2966 days

#5 posted 04-05-2009 04:20 PM

I think most of us suffer the same problem, that is, we only look forward to the finished project, I read recently, it may have been here on LJ, I do not remember the exact wording, don’t look to the end of a project, but enjoy each step of a project that you are working on now, don’t get in a hurry, just enjoy, then before you know it, you have finished. in order to enjoy the future, we need to enjoy the present. I am trying to learn this process now.

-- Smitty!!!

View bhack's profile


349 posts in 3140 days

#6 posted 04-05-2009 04:28 PM

One of the Proverbial lights that came on for me was initial prep. Get the boards flat and square. Tight joints just fall into place. Tune-up of the table saw is really important also. I have to fight haste. I aspire to creating an heirloom and I am getting there. Step back and look at your first project and your last. Did you notice the improvement? Build on that.

-- Bill - If I knew GRANDKIDS were so much fun I would have had them first.

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