Working with other people

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by richgreer posted 06-12-2011 01:02 AM 1396 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3075 days

06-12-2011 01:02 AM

If you have seen some of my projects you will know that I have done quite a bit of work for my church. To date, everything I have done has been a solo act. Now I am working on a project with several people from the church who have volunteered to help. It is a big project that will require a lot of labor so, in theory, I should appreciate the extra help. However, I am finding this whole experience very frustrating and nerve racking. Please remind me never to do this again.

Some of the helpers have a little bit of familiarity with power tools, but they still don’t really know what they are doing. I am constantly worrying about someone getting hurt and I keep trying to provide advice on how to do things safer. We’ve had to discard way to much material because someone made a mistake. Some of the tools are taking a beating.

I try to handle the more difficult and/or dangerous tasks myself but I cannot focus well on what I am doing when someone else is struggling with a more minor task.

On Monday a team of “little old ladies” will be showing up to start the staining and finishing part of the project. That should be another adventure.

The Pastor has encouraged me to involve other people because they will enjoy feeling like they have contributed to the project.

Never again!!! There is a reason why I like working alone.

Has anyone had a similar experience?

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

17 replies so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

18718 posts in 2568 days

#1 posted 06-12-2011 01:11 AM

Rich, I understand your dilemma. I left the construction field about 15 years ago, but I alway had employees that worked with me. At one point I had about 40 people employed. These were however people I hired and most were decent carpenters. To relate to what your going through I volunteered to run a “crew” of other volunteers building a play ground for the kids at the town park. I know exactly how you feel. These people scared me. How we made it threw the multiple week ends without someone getting hurt was a gift from god. I would even take off from my regular paying work during the week to go work on it myself. I got more done in a day by myself then some days with the help.

You just need to remind yourself its for a good cause, and others are there to help. You’ll get through it because thats what we do. Good luck. Keep in mind, I was working for the town, but your working for a higher power.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2984 days

#2 posted 06-12-2011 01:31 AM

Been there done that as well. Anymore I take a back seat and assume a supervisory role or teaching role and let them have at it. Because they know I have a shop they will ask me to do some of the more precise work, and I always say I’ll call when I’m done or if I need help. This usually suffices to say that I work allow and rarely require any help.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18272 posts in 3676 days

#3 posted 06-12-2011 03:44 AM

Been there, done that too! ;-( Not sure how to handle the volunteer situation. Employees are easy, don’t fool with them. Why get up and report to them in the morning?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Mark's profile


1807 posts in 3274 days

#4 posted 06-12-2011 03:52 AM

ahahahaha I know how you feel rich….I had a couple of my high school buddies help me out before. And I learned my lesson. Solo is how it stays unless it will be one of my kids or nephews that come under my wing to teach them. My buddies and I tackled an old antique…an oak desk at that. And they thought they knew what they were doing just because they took woodshop class in high school. Man was I ever paranoid watching these guys work. they were sanding against the grain (using wrong grit because they couldnt tell the difference), abusing my tools just because of improper use, finishing is a whole other story, etc. I basicly took on the project myself and told them to beat it. And as they left they said “we’ll halp ya out anytime” and I just shook my head at them.

-- M.K.

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3161 posts in 3109 days

#5 posted 06-12-2011 03:56 AM

You are in a position that I really don’t like, after years of volunteering for the BSA. You are going to have to watch everything your volunteers do. Personally, I would recommend that they use NONE of your power tools. NONE. I’ve seen things happen that will make you question your belief in your felon wo/man, when asking for volunteers. Seriously.

Oh, and BTW, I am an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor, so maybe you can imagine what has happened. You will not be able to control these person’s use of your tools…and I’m willing to bet many ducats what their response will be when you tell them “God will compensate you for that”.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View Chipy's profile


374 posts in 2594 days

#6 posted 06-12-2011 04:05 AM

I used to put in two sets of cabinets in a day including master bath and guest bath.My boss gave me a “helper” every time he was at the table saw i would here noises that I could conger up from that saw myself ! I would say you all right out there Dennis? Well we put 25 of the 200 units in and I went on vacation when I got back I said were is Dennis?He went to hospital, he cut his hand from the base of his baby finger to his wrist! He wont be back for a while.I said he shouldn’t be back at all!!!!!!!!! richgreer dont let em near your power tools some insurance policy is going to get utilized!

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4175 posts in 3165 days

#7 posted 06-12-2011 05:09 AM

I have a perspective from another arena.

You are into an organizational crisis…..they don’t understand command and capability organizational structures. The biggest problem is they think they can help without knowledge or experience.

For instance if you and I were assigned to a woodworking project, we would discuss it, decide who knew how to do what, and we would be consulting with each other constantly. We would probably decide that one of us should be in charge. We each would know our limits, and defer to the guy who had the best knowledge and experience. And I bet that is exactly what you would say if you were writing this.

I do surgery, sometimes simple stuff, with family practice residents, who are not skilled in my arena. I tell them…....listen to me, and don’t do anything, unless I tell you, and I will tell you exactly what to do.

OK, I am dealing with people with about 9 to 12 years of education in the general arena, and they wouldn’t be standing across from me, if they weren’t capable. Totally different picture. They know what they don’t know, and they know how to listen and follow orders. And they know when they can give orders.

The structure of the medical team, especially in a crisis is a wonder to behold. People who have never met each other before consult, defer, organize and work to a common goal on the fly. I have been there, my patient, a couple of years ago….. when the whole resources of a hospital become focused on my situation, my patient. Without ever having practiced together before, the thing flowed. And the outcome was excellent.

Your problem is…....your helpers may have no knowledge, no experience, and perhaps no aptitude. YIKES!

Talk to the pastor. Perhaps organize them…..who can use a wheelbarrel, who is good at sweeping. Who can organize a crew to carry lumber, who is a good gofer….........

Sympathy….....big time…........(-:

.........this is one time I am glad I am not you…............(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 2564 days

#8 posted 06-12-2011 05:38 AM

I currently run a few teams of furniture assemblers/cabinet installers. I am constantly stopping what I am doing to answer questions and take phone calls. It is always a pain in the ass, but certainly not as tough as when I was running volunteer crews for a non-profit rebuilding agency in New Orleans a few years ago. Mainly I was doing sheetrocking at this point and each week I would get a new batch of people wanting to help and needing complete training on what sheetrock even is. And then there was the day I was told I was going to have 3 people helping me and showed up and I had almost 30….no thanks

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Bernie's profile


422 posts in 2837 days

#9 posted 06-12-2011 05:40 AM

I had experiences with one on one… I was the teacher and they were the students. That was great! I have taught a retired teacher and a local minister woodworking, but I have never put myself in your situation and using your advise, I never will. But…

Now that you find yourself between a rock and a hard place, look at it as a learning experience for yourself. Have you by any chance prayed to God to teach you a little patience because it sounds like that’s what He is doing for you. A young lady friend of ours told us she was praying to God to teach her the true meaning of “patience”. A month latter, she informed us she was pregnant.

Maybe you are being asked to give your church community a sense of fellowship and “community”. We all speak of the strange and mysterious ways in which our Lord works. Sounds like you’re in the thick of it. Sometimes it’s hard to be us!

My wife Diana has a word for you after sharing with her your post. “Instead of building the cross, he only has to carry it a bit.” Your Pastor has hearts in the right place, but sometimes they need to hear the rest of the story. Invite him into your home and share with him this post. God does work in mysterious ways! I’ve experienced this!

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3369 days

#10 posted 06-12-2011 07:02 AM

“Your problem is…….your helpers may have no knowledge, no experience, and perhaps no aptitude.” You are correct Jim, just not complete. A bigger problem arises when they do have attitude, and think they know what they are doing. I was off for 5 months and my crew forgot how to follow directions. :-(

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3894 days

#11 posted 06-12-2011 07:22 AM

story of my life.

I call a spade a “spade”, last time I participated in a volunteer community effort…............disaster.

The “Serenity Prayer” it at every turn, it helps me everyday.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View chrisstef's profile


17387 posts in 3007 days

#12 posted 06-12-2011 03:16 PM

Rich, here’s an idea. You said you have a group of ladies coming in to help on the finishing end of things. Get a piece of poster board or cardboard or whatever and detail out the assignment. Explain the reason behind the products you are using, why you are filling the pores, why you stain with the grain, etc. We all know that when we build somethin we want it to come out perfect. Let perfection be in the eye of the beholder, this is a community project. I feel that if you can lend a bit of your knowledge to the others it would go a long way in establishing a sense of pride in them. Im sure that this has given you plenty of grief but on the flip side of things the others, while not as talented as you, will walk into the church one day and point out that they had a hand in building that. Pride comes in many forms.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3075 days

#13 posted 06-12-2011 03:43 PM

Thanks to all for you empathy and good advice.

We’re in the home stretch now. The dedication service is June 26th and we should have everything done a few days before that.

This is a project to build 72 pew end panels. I started this once before and we put it on hold until now. Originally we were going to make 80, but we removed 2 rows of pews since then. You can see the prototype here –

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View tdv's profile


1188 posts in 3070 days

#14 posted 06-12-2011 07:45 PM

Definitely know where you are coming from on this one Rich, although there are times when I would dearly love a helping hand it boils down to what I really want is another ME! that’s not conceit but it just seems no-one else does it the way I want….. Guess I’m a control freak but the older I get the more I’m content with my own company while I work although in fairness when I make a cock up I still rant … myself!
Stick with it my friend God will bless your labours

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18272 posts in 3676 days

#15 posted 06-12-2011 07:56 PM

One day one of the other small electrical contractors I have known since our apprenticeship said to me, “Don’t you wish you could hire someone like yourself?” I told him the problem is everyone I’d like to hire wants me to work for them ;-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

showing 1 through 15 of 17 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics