First Shop #6: Reflections

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Blog entry by YooperCasey posted 01-08-2008 06:24 PM 784 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Bench, Chisels and First Project Part 6 of First Shop series Part 7: Stanley's Finest and Refinishing »

So here I sit, less two wisdom teeth, browsing through Lumberjocks gazing at projects, reading the forum, checking blogs and taking stock of where I am at. My journey as an amateur woodworker has barely started and I have been exposed, through this site, to more methods, techniques and projects than would normally be possible even in traditional education.

Now I’m not saying that the education I’ve gained here passes up what I would get at Inside Passage, or College of the Redwoods, or the east coast equivalents. But, the exposure to methods, thoughts, ideas, styles, woods, and most of all the enthusiasm that a large group of people who truly enjoy what they do brings is priceless. I can read a post from Frank, see the beautiful prose and the passion of working wood. Then I can see a beautiful box from DocK. Then I can read a discussion about powered carving bits, something I know absolutely nothing about.

Now think how amazing it is to get this many views, to learn of so many techniques and methods to work the common denominator we all love. Wood.

Picture if you would an apprentice in a 17th century workshop. He will learn from a small, select, and extremely talented group of people. The styles will be limited to one particular area, the instructions and critiquing will come from a small group of people. He may hear of methods used in a far off land, or see some small pieces of tropical woods, but overall his work will be similiar to those who taught him.

Today the internet is part of my apprenticeship into woodworking. Instead of one or two guildmasters I have hundreds, thousands. I can be inspired by Frank, read the prose, feel the wood sing in my heart and yearn to hold it in my hands. I often times just click the “Roll the Dice” tab on the front page and see the beautfiul work before me. In those short few minutes I can be exposed to so many wonderful works of art that it is stunning. Especially interesting is MsDebbieP and her tours, travels and general happy thoughts.

Of course there are parts of the apprenticeship that are lacking, the hands on, right there beside you type learning. The critiquing, which is an essential thing in any work. As it stands I am my own worse critic, but when I do something wrong I don’t have that experienced master to scold, but also point out the deficiencies and provide the solutions. Our internet culture has a difficult time accentuating the nuances of conversation, the slight nod, or wink that can lighten a conversation. That essential of body language is difficult to get across on the net, so we strive for politeness to counter the far crossed emotions that can’t be portrayed.

So now I sit here, inspired, interested, and enjoying myself.

Thank you Lumberjocks and Lumberjockettes.

-- Casey, Engineer, Escanaba, MI

5 comments so far

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3360 days

#1 posted 01-08-2008 10:20 PM

Casey I couldn’t agree with you more. Well, maybe I could. The only area I might disagree is with the critique issue and that’s because I’m not fully convinced it’s not here. You’ve already said that you are your own worst critic and that is as it should be. The work here from all levels provides examples that call each of us to a higher level. I don’t know that I need Mark DeCou or Todd Clippinger at my side telling me what I do wrong. The sheer power of their work points out my deficiany. Add to that their willingness to share their insights and learning experiences and you’ve got a top quality mentor who doesn’t nag.

The folks here do some bang up work and teach by example. As you look at your own work and methods and compare it to those who skills are obviously beyond your own, you will naturally move in a direction that follows them. But as to the value of this site, we are a lucky group to have it.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 3498 days

#2 posted 01-09-2008 12:40 AM

I like the way you presented the apprenticeship angle.

-- BLOG -

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4445 posts in 3383 days

#3 posted 01-09-2008 12:53 AM

I think I prefer this method to getting my butt chewed as I have in the past by my mentors. Besides, I don’t feel like chewing.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View gene's profile


2184 posts in 3304 days

#4 posted 01-09-2008 02:49 AM

I consider myself fairly good at what I can do. It took a life time to accomplish it. Watching, listening, trial and error. (many, many errors) The main thing about learning from the LumberJocks that share their works here is,
that they have skipped showing the mistakes and errors, and have gone straight to the good stuff.
I come here at least 5 times a day. It never ceases to amaze me, that I learn something new almost every time. It has been better than any book that I could read and study. Its like having a tutor over your shoulder with none of the usual nagging if you get it wrong. I would not want any better help, than the fellow members who share their knowledge here. What an apprentice school we have going on here.
Thanks fellow LumberJocks!!
God bless

-- Gene, a Christian in Virginia

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 3581 days

#5 posted 01-09-2008 02:17 PM

excellent blog.
Russel.. an interesting point. Knowing what others would count as quality, how can I do a half-effort job on something?
I remember, when I first started, Red_Merganzer posted something about someone showing their work and it had glue drips all over the place, and the sanding wasn’t smooth .. and these details took away from the project.
How could I post something on here with glue drips and sanding marks? So I spent a lot of time on my little projects, paying attention to those little details. And he wasn’t even in my shop!!! But I remembered. (and still do)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

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