The other night I happened to be sitting in my shop.
And looking around at my little woodworking kingdom.
I gazed at the workbench…at the tool shelves and racks along the back wall, lined with all of my oft-used hand tools neatly arranged and ready for me to pick up to make shavings and chips….then at the stack of cutoffs under the utility bench…then at the various boards and panels leaning against another wall, waiting to become a project.
This night, I didn’t come into the workshop intending to do any work.
All I did was sit… pop a couple of Altoids…..and look.
I think every woodworker does and should do this once in a while.
At least for me, doing so gives me a little quiet time to ponder this whole woodworking thing. And what better place than in the serenity of the quiet, idle workshop?
I found myself thinking about a lot of things: Which direction I want to go with my woodworking, what skills I have yet to learn, tools that I must acquire to complete my ideal tool kit, shop fixtures and aids I yet need to build, and projects I want to tackle.
Gazing around the shop, I took special notice of all the projects that were sitting around awaiting completion. To my surprise, there are quite a few. Lathe stand parts here, a half-finished tool cabinet there, and over there- pieces of pine I cut last spring for making boxes to organize cutoff stock by species, parts of unfinished toys in totes on a shelf under the bench, an old socket chisel that needs a handle turned, hand saws awaiting cleaning and sharpening, a couple of planes to be fettled.
I began to wonder why there are so many unfinished things sitting around in my shop. Then it also struck me that I have been very active lately looking at woodworking magazines, books, blogs, forums, and project pages, filling my head with even more projects which I would like to tackle! Yeah, just what I need….
After thinking about this for a bit, I figured out what was wrong…I have a weird tendency to start a lot of things, but put off finishing them. Procrastination is not really the issue here, rather it’s a matter of having so many things flying around in my cranium that I enthusiastically get started on a project, then get interested in and fly off to another before the first one is completed. This has a cumulative effect, and soon I find a large pile of things undone and cluttering up the shop.
I will attribute all of this to being left-handed.
Time to do something about this. No, not the left-handedness thing….can’t help that.
Instead, I opened up my shop notebook to a clean page and began drafting a checklist of all the unfinished projects I could find in the shop, large and small.
I identified 35….
When I had finished, I tore the page out of the notebook and tacked it to a prominent spot above the tool shelves. I resolved to work through this list and complete everything on it before even thinking about starting a new project.
We’ll see how long THAT lasts !!
Nonetheless, with that done, I shut off all the shop lights and trekked upstairs, satisfied that I had just completed perhaps one of my most productive shop sessions this year. And I didn’t even have to sweep up any shavings!