Musings from an average woodworker

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Blog entry by sgmdwk50 posted 05-12-2013 08:18 AM 1287 reads 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I see many beautiful pieces of work on LJ. The creators are true artists … I am not. I love working with wood. I love the process, watching the raw material turn into something solid and useful. But my skills are not exceptional. Neither are my tools and the materials I work with. I am the average guy. I try to learn new things on every project. I try to avoid repeating my mistakes. I try to have fun.

I just finished my first “real” workbench. For more than 20 years I have been clamping the same piece of plywood in a Workmate, or working on the top of my old Craftsman contractor table saw. The top of the bench is 25” X 61”, made of three layers of 3/4” oak plywood edged with oak salvaged from a dumpster several years ago. The body of the bench is made from 2X6 framing lumber, cut to length and laminated together to make some really heavy timbers. I don’t have a jointer and my planer needs new blades. Those shortcomings and the warping and twisting of my materials, meant I got to know a No. 6 Stanley plane I have had for a long time and seldom used. I also used, fro the first time an old Stanley No. 61 low angle block plane I scored on Ebay. What a joy it is to peel off long thin shavings with a really sharp hand tool. The bench took me a couple weeks to finish, with several trips to HF for more clamps. I went through a quart of glue and a box of Bandaids (typical for me). I finally bolted on a heavy quick release vise I bought on sale last month (the reason for the bench build). The result pleases me – a lot. I know where the mistakes are, but I worked around them. There is nothing pretty about it, but it is a nice looking bench, in a very utilitarian way. I can move it, but it isn’t easy. This baby won’t be shifting around when I am working.

So that is my woodworking: not great, but pretty good – and very satisfying.

9 comments so far

View clieb91's profile


3520 posts in 3935 days

#1 posted 05-12-2013 12:29 PM

Welcome to LumberJocks. The bench sounds like it is a very good starting place for future projects. Sounds pretty sturdy as well. No matter what you should post it as a project. The crew around here is very good and looks forward to seeing where everyone is starting at no matter what the skill level. We all had to be at the start at some point.
Looking at some of the work on hear can be overwhelming, but there are also those that just like to work on stuff and do it for the fun. Myself included.

Look forward to seeing more.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29233 posts in 2338 days

#2 posted 05-12-2013 12:29 PM

Understand that we are all artists. Give everyone a board and no two people will do the same with it. However in every case they use their thoughts and imagination to make what they make. We simply have to be open minded to learning so that whatever we make is the best we can do.

Welcome to LumberJocks

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2487 days

#3 posted 05-12-2013 12:59 PM

Satisfying to you…. that is all it has to be.

I am also not an ‘artisan’ or a ‘craftsman’.... yet. I don’t know if I will ever be, but that doesn’t matter.
What matters is like you, it pleases me.

Keep on keepin’ on!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3334 days

#4 posted 05-12-2013 01:48 PM

If we were all real good at this woodworking thing, we might not find it as interesting and challenging. Regardless of our current skills most of us are constantly struggling to reach the next level, wherever that might be on the skill index. I like LJ because it is more about folks with common interests socializing and sharing rather than competing, although there are some contests for fun too. Welcome to LJ. I’m pretty sure you will like it here.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View JoeinGa's profile


7736 posts in 2007 days

#5 posted 05-12-2013 01:52 PM

To paraphrase Red Green…. It ain’t gotta be pretty, so long as it’s useful!

Welcome to LumberJocks.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8515 posts in 1982 days

#6 posted 05-12-2013 02:11 PM

Congrats on the bench and welcome to LJs. I consider myself a person of average skill and intelligence as well. But I keep working as this craft and learning everything I can along the way. I’m having a great time and starting to make things that even I’m surprised by the result. Thanks for sharing your journey….but if your like me, I think your bench is just the start;-)

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View jumbojack's profile


1676 posts in 2624 days

#7 posted 05-12-2013 02:55 PM

Welcome to LJs!
Get a camera, I and most others would LOVE to see your new bench. We are all learning here, it is the reason we all come.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3309 days

#8 posted 05-12-2013 04:34 PM

I find that the most important thing about woodworking is that we enjoy what we do…if someone else appreciates it… well that is lagniappe.

View Dakkar's profile


323 posts in 1928 days

#9 posted 05-12-2013 07:30 PM

Don’t berate yourself, dude. I’m pretty sure every one of those jocks who seem to be “true artists” made a whole lot of “average” stuff before producing the things you liked. Making things that impress people is pretty much just about repeating the task enough times. Artistry is nice, but in the end it’s “99% perspiration” I think.

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