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Forum topic by Dan Campebell posted 11-01-2012 10:03 AM 1339 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dan Campebell

36 posts in 3132 days

11-01-2012 10:03 AM

Topic tags/keywords: woodworking turning personal satisfaction skill improvement learning tip

Woodworking and turning require concentration to the point of losing myself (a meditative state). They both require self discipline which slowly becomes a world of endless learning and possibility. Of course, in order to get a project done I have to make myself focus if I am working on a project that needs completion but the completion leads to a satisfaction that (for me) needs to be shared. Woodworking/turning allows me to experience and be at one with nature, my loved ones and The Creator.
I am sure there are those who will think, I need to get a life but I would am sure there are many who share this feeling of satisfaction. My work isn’t always perfect but this imperfection is what allows for the feeling of satisfaction and sometimes humility (when the realize how much I could improve my skills.
I have a nice shop with a fair amount of room and most of the conveniences (it took a lifetime to aquire these things) but I felt the satisfaction long before I all the tools and space.
I would love to hear from others about how and why they spend so much time, money and energy in woodworking and turning.

Dan Campbell,

-- Dan Campbell

11 replies so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3073 days

#1 posted 11-01-2012 10:21 AM

For one, it is a physical reconnect to repair damage that comes from living in a virtual world. I work in IT, much of what I had created at my job has no texture, no smell, no touch. It just exists on a screen. Over time, that kind of existence wears on you. When I go down the basement, it is all physical. The whole experience involves all five senses – Listening to music, drinking coffee, smelling the sawdust, handling the tools and the wood, and watching the grain reveal itself while working the project.

Turning is an amazing experience in itself. Every action on the lathe has an immediate response from the wood. It is its own little dance, a living conversation if you will. I also like the fact that I can walk outside, grab a stick, mount it on the lathe, and a little while later I have a ring holder, a candlestick, a little cup, anything that possesses me at the time.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2213 days

#2 posted 11-01-2012 12:24 PM

I echo a lot of David’s sentiments. I too am in IT. I work in a very high pressure/impossible deadline management role. I constantly push my engineers far beyond their abilities, yet they consistently deliver. Woodworking is my chance to push myself far beyond my abilities to see if I can deliver.

Another reason is I live and breathe cutting edge technology for 9 to 12 hours a day. I am saturated by information flashing all over my giant LED monitors. The last thing I want to after my day is done is sit in front of an even larger LED monitor (TV) and have more information thrown in my face. I want to get “low tech” for a bit. While I own a lot of new power tools, save for some safety features and other little things, they are not much different than they were 40 years ago. Also like David, I have a coffee pot in the shop and I queue up some music that fits my current mood. Sometimes, especially when finishing, the only thing I want to hear is the hum of the fluorescent’s over my head

Lastly, I love creating things. I create things all day at work. I create system configurations, process documentation, solutions, contribute to development of productivity tools, and, hopefully create a ton of cash that goes into my companies accounting ledger. None of these things I can hold in my hand. None of these things are truly my design, and I do not own any of these things. With woodworking I have total control over what I create. Turning brings a sort of instant satisfaction. When I have nothing to really make, I’ll just chuck up a piece of 2×4 and play with profiles. It’s interesting to stop the lathe periodically and see what is hiding inside that construction lumber. It’s also really satisfying when you get the angle of the gouge Just right and instead of chips you get a nice fountain of wood strings peeling off in one continuous ribbon.

Furniture making is by no means instant gratification for me, but I equate it to reading a book. When I go out to the shop, my goal is to get through a chapter. Whether that be prepping the stock and rough cutting, Getting all the pieces to final dimensions, joinery, glue-up, sanding and finishing, then assembly. When I finish a piece, the satisfaction quickly fades when I realize I now have nothing left to do. Then it is time to think about and plan the next project.


View BinghamtonEd's profile


2297 posts in 2334 days

#3 posted 11-01-2012 01:29 PM

+1 to what has already been said. I work as a software lead in the defense industry. After staring at a computer and sitting in pointless meetings all day, the last thing I want to do is go home and stare at a computer. The only reason I turn on my laptop at home anymore is to upload pictures of my family. Working with my hands keeps me sane and helps me to put the day behind me. Some days, I’ll just go into the garage for an hour and pick up, or just accomplish nothing in particular, but I still feel a lot better. I think I’m drawn to it because, as is the case with many people in a technical profession, I like to pay attention to precision and tiny details.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2111 days

#4 posted 11-01-2012 02:23 PM

I’m also in IT, working as a software development consultant. I sense a trend. It’s a failure and fuckery infested industry that erodes the human soul. Woodworking and wood turning help to build mine back up a bit. For me, it’s about productivity and accomplishment. So much of my time at work is wasted and unproductive, but when I’m in my shop I feel as though I’m accomplishing something, even when I’m just tidying up. I lose track of time in my shop and before I know it, hours have passed. At work, every second drags into another second that drags even more.


View BinghamtonEd's profile


2297 posts in 2334 days

#5 posted 11-01-2012 02:34 PM

I guess we’ve figured out what all the IT and software guys do at work :)

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2213 days

#6 posted 11-01-2012 03:00 PM

Multitasking on conference calls :)

But yes, IT is a soul crushing world. I am very happy I moved from engineering to business process management. My job is to make things easier and more consistent for engineers. While IT engineering used to be my passion, it became a tedious burden as others have mentioned. I do get satisfaction when something I implement nets a 50 to 60% workload reduction.

From my experience, IT professionals tend to be very mechanically oriented and creative problem solvers. That lends well to woodworking. Statistics is also a passion of mine and I notice things Anecdotally. For example, when I was an engineer I worked in a network operations center of about 150 engineers in different tiers. The highest tiered group had a LOT in common – not necessarily just hobbies and education, but physical aspects.

For example: The majority of the engineers were either late 20’s or early 30’s, thinning hair kept really short, some sort of facial hair, glasses or contacts, average height and build. The most unusual aspect that stood out to me were how many were left handed. Outside of IT, I am usually the lone lefty. In my shift of about 26 engineers, the majority were lefties.


View Swyftfeet's profile


170 posts in 2136 days

#7 posted 11-01-2012 03:07 PM

Ha!!!! You should be the engineer listening to you IT guys in those conference calls. I mean really… I drooled less and doodled less in my gen eds.

kreegans “failure and fuckery” had me chortling in my cube.

-- Brian

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2297 posts in 2334 days

#8 posted 11-01-2012 03:19 PM

Multitasking on conference calls :)

Yep, it’s always either that or “My code is compiling.”

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2213 days

#9 posted 11-01-2012 03:21 PM

Compiling code was “get up from your desk time” for me. Anyone walking past my desk could see all the text whipping by, thought “that must be important” and didn’t question where I was :)


View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4183 days

#10 posted 11-01-2012 03:30 PM

Dan, I think you summed it up nicely.

I look at my three major hobbies (woodworking, music, and photography), and there is most definitely a common thread. In all of them, it is about the satisfaction of taking the commonplace and creating something new and unique.

For me, it’s very much a two-level process. The creation itself can be very self-satisfying. But sharing the creation with others can be very pleasurable as well, and sometimes even profound.

In my mind, those two aspects feed very different needs. The desire to create is quite internal and personal, while the drive to share that creation is all about connecting to other human beings on an emotional level.

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

View 47phord's profile


182 posts in 2202 days

#11 posted 11-02-2012 11:00 AM

I was smart enough to stay out of IT (or anything computer related for that matter), but I do drive a delivery truck for a living, so I spend hours a day either staring out of the windshield or dealing with customers (imagine working retail on someone’s doorstep while they are still in their PJ’s) so I enjoy doing something useful with my hands.

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