When is it good enough?

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Forum topic by Mario posted 01-29-2008 05:57 PM 1401 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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902 posts in 4075 days

01-29-2008 05:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I have been struggling with projects and never seem to be satisfied with the quality of the projects that I produce. I was reading a book by James Krenov titled A cabinet makers notebook. He discussed this very topic and I was floored that someone of his skill would feel the same way.

Is this something that is universal?

How do you get passed seing every little mistake that you make?

I came away from his book with the idea of enjoying the process and not just the end result of your work.

How do you guys/gals deal with this?

-- Hope Never fails

22 replies so far

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3898 days

#1 posted 01-29-2008 06:06 PM

I have learned the hard way to try not to point out my mistakes to everyone. Most people will never notice unless it is seriously flawed. It must be practiced, it does not come naturally.

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4075 days

#2 posted 01-29-2008 06:08 PM

Guilty also. been there and done that.

-- Hope Never fails

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3986 days

#3 posted 01-29-2008 06:28 PM

As long as we are never satisfied, we will continue to strive for perfection and always fail to achieve it. Excellence is a journey not a destination. In time you will look back and see how far you have come. My son-in -law and I were installing the counter top in our home.(my projects, the kitchen at 404 Blackaby). The main thing we felt so good about was how perfect we had the mitered corners on the edge band on the counter top. On the Flynn’s project it was how well we mitered the laminate. It’s not that we haven’t satisfied customers all along, it’s that these are areas we have identified as needing work towards perfection. As these things are corrected we move on to others. It’s called craftsmanship instead of workmanship.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4197 days

#4 posted 01-29-2008 06:51 PM

For me, it is good enough when I know that is the best I can do with my current skill level and the tools available to me. If I know I can do better, then I will do it over and do it better. If I know I’ve reached my own limits, then that is where I stop. But that is a learning experience for me and I carry that knowledge with me to the next project. It is how I improve my work.

My philosophy: Aim for perfection, but don’t be too hard on yourself when you don’t achieve it (which is every time, right?). My mom has a sign in her home office I quite like, as well…

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it.”

-- Ethan,

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3898 days

#5 posted 01-29-2008 08:03 PM

Interesting topic. I agree with Red’s answer. It also depends on the task. I have a different standard for cabinets in my rented house than on my jewelry boxes.

-- Happy woodworking!

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4060 days

#6 posted 01-29-2008 08:14 PM

I’ll make compromises where they don’t matter; settle for less where less won’t be noticed; hide mistakes where mistakes can be hidden. If it’s in plain site where I’m going to see it? It’s a do-over. If it’s in plain site where I can live with it, and nobody else will notice, it is what it is. I do, however, reserve the right to change my mind with any and all of the above criteria, depending on how I feel at the time. After all, we’re not building guidance systems for a moon launch here, we’re building things from wood. The perfection is in the uniqueness of the piece and a little error here and there is the nature of working with a living entity.

I guess…

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4242 days

#7 posted 01-29-2008 08:35 PM

For me, it is all about how patient I am willing to be. The more time I take on every step, the better the result.

I tend to look forward to seeing the finished product, and that makes me impatient, and THAT leads to more imperfection. The longer I am at this hobby, the more I see myself slowing down to do my best and enjoy the process, rather than looking forward to the end result.

To me, woodworking is a perfect parallel of life. Live in the moment, do the next right thing, enjoy it one day at a time. Happiness isn’t a destination…. it’s a journey.

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

View Ryan Shervill's profile

Ryan Shervill

278 posts in 3836 days

#8 posted 01-29-2008 10:13 PM

I was asked this very question…..I flash back to a good friend who was also an artist, and taught painting.
When taking her class, I had just done my first painting and I was looking at it with brush in hand, wondering what it “needed”.

She walked over and asked if I was done…I replied “I think so, but….”. She took my brush and said “When you think you are done, STOP.” Quite often we can actually make things worse….

So thats my answer: It’s good enough when it’s good enough. When you think you are done, you are done. Walk away from it, refresh, come back and re-assess.

My .02, and worth exactly what you paid for it :)

-- Want to see me completely transform a house? Look here:

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3845 days

#9 posted 01-30-2008 12:42 AM

It is a universal trait. We are never truly satisfied with our work. We tend to focus more on what we perceive as flaws rather than on the success of our work. This self critique is beneficial in that it will lead us to become better woodworkers.

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

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4075 days

#10 posted 01-30-2008 03:30 AM

Thank you all for the feedback. All very good points that i will take to heart.

Thank you

-- Hope Never fails

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4113 days

#11 posted 01-30-2008 03:36 AM

I think that is all or our hope: to keep learning, to improve, to try something new. What a gift if we could all do it right the first time.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View IowaWoodcrafter's profile


280 posts in 4100 days

#12 posted 01-30-2008 04:19 AM


I would consider it more of a curse if we could always do it right the first time. There would be no joy of discovery, of building a skill. You don’t get the satisfaction of looking at past projects and knowing how far you’ve come in your abilities. For me the journey of learning is the part I enjoy most, not what I’ve made.

-- Owen Johnson - aka IowaWoodcrafter

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 3822 days

#13 posted 01-30-2008 04:32 AM

I reached perfection once… It was amazing.. then I woke up and found that it was just a sick nightmare. I strive for it and get close. I take pride in how well most things come out and laugh a bit about the ones that don’t

-- making sawdust....

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4113 days

#14 posted 01-30-2008 04:47 AM

Good point owen. But I guess I meant that tongue and cheek.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View cowboy's profile


68 posts in 3811 days

#15 posted 01-31-2008 09:42 PM

Years ago I studied with Wendell Castle and a time or two I would feel as though a certain part or maybe the piece was starting to look good,Wendell would come along and I would ask him what he thought his answer is one I still use today “It’s your piece with your name on it”.That kind of puts it all into perspective for me.
So now here 20 some yrs later I have yet to build one worthy of my elusive “great piece” but I am always feel really good about signing it or it goes nowhere.

showing 1 through 15 of 22 replies

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