Just when I thought I was good.... #1: A lesson in humility...

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Blog entry by cajunpen posted 03-13-2008 05:54 AM 4622 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Saw a blog earlier by DannyBoy about lathes brought back memories. Many years ago I got my first lathe – one of those cheap ones from Ohio Forge. I practiced and practiced until I finally got a spindle that looked decent. My next door neighbor – who is a carpenter – was out in the yard and I called him over to see my handy work. I was just so thrilled to show him something that I could do with wood that HE couldn’t do. Kenny is a really good finished carpenter, and I had been in his shop many times and knew that he did not have a lathe.

Well, he looked at my spindle and said that it was pretty fair for a beginner. I challenged him to come over and do one better on my lathe. Unfortunately he accepted and came over (now keep in mind that this was all being done in a friendly manner – we were and still are very good friends). Well Kenny came over and asked what tool I had used to do my spindle. I proudly handed him my cheap Sears Craftsman gouge and said “let’s see what you can do”. He put the gouge down, looked around and grabbed one of my screwdrivers – walked over to the grinder and sharpened it a bit and proceeded to blow my spindle making dreams totally away – his spindle was much nicer than mine AND WITH JUST A SCREWDRIVER!!!!!.

He went on to explain that he had spent his childhood years in his Father’s shop in Mississippi – and all he did all day long was turn spindles for the rocking chairs that his father made to sell.

Just a humbling experience that taught me to never take for granted what another’s talent or knowledge might be. I went on to learn a lot from Kenny and he turned out to be quite a talented furniture maker. Wish he still lived next door.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

13 comments so far

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4023 posts in 4032 days

#1 posted 03-13-2008 06:28 AM

Bill, You and Kenny just saved me about 20 bucks toward my next spindle gouge order. Time to crank up the grinder.
I already owe Dick Cain for saving me from purchasing a dovetail recess scraper by showing me how to make my own from a old dull file. Back when I thought I had to spend something from every paycheck on woodworking tools I might have been sore about not getting to fork-over the dough. I’m so over that spending addiction now (with gas at $3.19/gal I hold onto those bills until the eagle screams).

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 3902 days

#2 posted 03-13-2008 08:29 AM

Sometimes its really good to be reminded of where we’re at in the learning continuum :). Thanks for the good idea; when I get a lathe someday, I’ll try to remember. I’ve got way more regular screwdrivers than I ever use anyway!

-- Robb

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3907 days

#3 posted 03-13-2008 12:10 PM

That’s a good lesson to learn Bill. I know I’ve been schooled a few times in that way. It makes you take a step back, but can also push you forward. Good story.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3790 days

#4 posted 03-13-2008 12:36 PM

Nice story Bill. Too often we get into the unending tool chase thinking that our success/failure lies in the tool, itself and forget that experience is the real secret to success.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Grumpy's profile


23841 posts in 3819 days

#5 posted 03-13-2008 01:06 PM

So true Bill. Been there done that. Great story. There is nothing like an equaliser is there.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4186 days

#6 posted 03-13-2008 02:00 PM

I think we all know the feeling, Bill. Every time I start to feel too good about my skills, someone posts a project that makes mine look like beginner shop class. <g>

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3956 days

#7 posted 03-13-2008 03:16 PM

Ah, humility. You live long enough you get used to it.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4295 days

#8 posted 03-13-2008 04:03 PM

great story!

Also nice to be reminded that we may already have more tools than we thought we had.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4369 days

#9 posted 03-14-2008 04:49 AM

Bill How can you call him a friend. I mean he screwed up a good screwdriver.

Or did he go and get one of his own.

Great story.

Now in my shop he could find a screwdriver, but, he’d have a hard time finding the grinder.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Pretzel's profile


93 posts in 3714 days

#10 posted 03-14-2008 07:57 AM

lessons learned are the only way we can strive to become better

-- Pretzel L8agn

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4034 days

#11 posted 03-14-2008 08:14 AM

Now, Karson – I let him screw up one of my screwdrivers, and now I have a new turning tool and know that I don’t know jack about woodworking yet.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3843 days

#12 posted 03-14-2008 10:39 AM

It does pay to keep an open mind, and never quit learning, or being willing to learn.

View TedM's profile


2002 posts in 3701 days

#13 posted 03-15-2008 12:29 AM

Methinks you were hustled. Just make sure you don’t play poker or pool with him either… :)

-- I'm a wood magician... I can turn fine lumber into firewood before your very eyes! - Please visit and sign up for my project updates!

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