Hearing from the experts.

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Blog entry by dennis mitchell posted 02-02-2007 06:48 AM 850 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Now someone is telling me peanut butter is bad for my heart. Well I was so proud of switching from butter to peanut butter…and I saw on the news coffee is good for me this week. I guess I just can’t trust what i hear. I was looking at one of those woodworking web sites where someone has a question and the experts come crawling out of the woodwork with all this stuff. The one that got me was blotchy stain. This came up three different times and the poor guys asking the question was given tons of ways to fix it lots of them expensive. Not one person told them that in many cases the blotchy appearance will disappear once the finish is applied. That’s just the way the stain looks before its finished! Another one I loved had Janes something or another showing how to put knobs on cabinets by using a level to mark the place to drill for the knobs…I can think of a few things wrong with this. This world is full of information and ways I can screw up by following the directions. I’m sure glad I had teachers who taught critical thinking skills and just didn’t ram the three r’s down me. They were art, design, woodworking, literature and history teachers. One of the things i like here is I see more options then opinion given people. That mistakes are just another way of doing things.

7 comments so far

View frank's profile


1492 posts in 4230 days

#1 posted 02-02-2007 12:45 PM

Hi Dennis;
—-well you speak as one who has tasted the ‘options-of-opinions’ and from this you have come full circle and now know that, ”I guess I just can’t trust what i hear”!

With the options presented to me, I can garner many and much opinions and in the long run it is still ‘I’ who does the choosing. I have had to laugh myself at all the opinions given for doing ‘finishes’, and then I will stop by Borders and read some books on finishes and it just amazes me at all the money being made by folks who publish their opinions on this subject. Money wise I think that I missed it somewhere, rather then doing woodworking, I wonder if its not time to go and find a publisher and just start writing my opinions which I can then sell for big money.

I really do believe that you are right on track about the value of ”critical thinking skills” as without being able to do this, one will forever only be following the opinions of others. I find that in much of the mechanical trades that are taught today, to think a problem through to a finish is not taught anymore, what we now teach is how to be a parts changer. Now the mechanic looks at what the hours are and how many miles and the decision is already made for him as to what must be swaped out….oh well, I could go on but this is your story…..


-- --frank, NH,

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4185 days

#2 posted 02-02-2007 02:04 PM

it takes a thoughtful mind to listen to all the options (or even “one” option) and be able to visualize it working or not working.

This topic is one of my little “burrs under my bonnet”. As an Early Childhood Educator it drives me crazy listening to all the hype about the urgency of teaching preschoolers reading and math skills. Conversations with my daughter identifies this same frustration at the High School level—we want to judge our kids (or society’s) intelligence on the basis of their knowledge of facts.

I keep pushing to teach children HOW to think, not WHAT to think. I want them to be able to assess situations, look at things from all angles, consider the outcome of their choices. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people were told something and they would disect the information to see if it really made sense and if “solutions” would indeed really work? Wouldn’t it be great if people could look at a problem and, by identifying all of the elements in the problem as well as the project itself, come up with a solution that would achieve what they were after.

Now, jumping off by bandwagon, I have to think about questions I’ve asked here… am I living true to my beliefs? I hope so. I think so.

Thank you for this post. Got my blood moving this morning :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4271 days

#3 posted 02-02-2007 02:49 PM

Hi Dennis, you know thats one thing about our generation. We started asking why, we did’nt do things just because the’ve always been done that way. I think we were a little more free thinking than our parents. I remember asking my drill sargent why were we in Vietnam and he could’nt answer me. He sounded like a liittle boy, he said, just because, gimmy 50! You gotta do like Mark says get all the info than make up your own mind. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4430 days

#4 posted 02-02-2007 04:32 PM

I have left 2 other website forums for the same reasons you have mentioned. I remember a great experience to watch when Jockmike2 was asking for advice on how to trim out his top on his project. He received several different responses, all as “options” for him, and he was able to pick an option, or go another way. He received advice, and picked a path.

I also remember posting for help on my Altar project. Karson sent me an article on hand carving lettering, which helped envision what I needed to do on the hand carving of the gothic trim panels I am making. I also received some great advice on the casting of carvings. This is something I am learning about for the first time, and the help I received has been appreciated.

In any case, what we need are options. I remember back in one of my flute groups I was in how many wrong opinions were given, over some of the most simple woodworking skills. Such as, what finish to apply, and reading all of the bad advice and reasons for it was a pure drain on me. At first, I tried to counter the bad advice with experience, and supporting information, and eventually, just gave up, it was too big of a job, and folks weren’t listening to it anyway.

I appreciate your words Dennis, keep warm, get that house finished, and keep posting when you get a chance,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4351 days

#5 posted 02-02-2007 05:53 PM

There is a Waldorf School up the road from me. My sister, a high school teacher, tells me that this school is world renouned, and with our values (cost notwithstanding) would find this to be the perfect place for our little girl. They hold off teaching the “three R’s” until much later than I remember them being crammed down my throat, and instead focus on education with art and spatial awareness, thinking, problem solving and so on. Oh to be young again!

When I solicit advice, I’ll get a mix of “you should do” (or you’d better do) and “what I would do – sometimes presented as an option, others as a “what’s worked well in the past”. Time notwithstanding, I’ll typically find the answer somewhere in the middle. A little from several sources and things tend to work out just fine.

You should publish Frank, or at least look into it. I’m sure you’ll have little trouble filling several chapters with your thoughts and inspirations. Right now I’m looking more for the behind the scenes thought and inspirations that have gone into projects, rather than the book of 20 projects with the step by step and none of the why (or alternatives offered).

I guess P.T. Barnum still had it right way back when, he said, Don’t believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see. – Advice seemingly lost in this day and (high-tech) age.

Maybe an all-natural peanut butter (without the added sugar and oil) will turn out to be ok Dennis. at least for now red wine and dark chocolate are still on the good list!

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

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4324 days

#6 posted 02-02-2007 06:08 PM

Hi Dennis.
This contribution isn’t about food, But I remember one of my grade school teachers saying that if you wore your overshoes in the classroom all day, It was bad or your eyes.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4185 days

#7 posted 02-02-2007 07:22 PM

hahaa oh Dick that is TOO funny… or maybe it was true?? !! :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

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