I tend to try and find meaning behind everything that happens during the course of my day. I strongly feel that if a situation arises, and you do not learn something from it, you have failed no matter the end result of the situation. The theme of this series of posts is lessons learned through wood working basically. How this whole journey is teaching me life lessons and how to find meaning in what you do other than just the thing you crafted. Last night was no exception.
Being a family man, it’s almost impossible for me to get time in the shop during the week (or even most weekends it seems). So, I have to take every opportunity to get in there when it arises. Take last night for instance. After everyone finally fell asleep at 10:30 I crept out to the shop to put in some time.
So there I stood under the dim light of a single 40 watt bulb, freshly purchased used barely sharp hand saw in hand. My cheapo little woodworking vice clamped to my work surface with a pallet slat between it’s jaws. And a big ass grin on my face. This was it. My first cut in my workshop. I lined up the saw with the mark I made and gleefully started sawing. Below is the cut
To say that’s “a little off” is like saying King Kong is a little bigger than a monkey. That cut is TERRIBLE! But, rather than get all bummed out and feel sorry for myself, I chuckled (definitley out loud) and some lightbulbs immediately came on in my head.
1) Slow down and pay attention. Now, I wasn’t sawing with reckless abandon and cackling madly (at least not out loud I think). But I was so into the moment I wasn’t paying attention to the line I drew (which I could barely see in the light anyway). Slow down. This isn’t a race. No one is puting pressure on your to get this done. This is a hobby and not a career. This happens to me in life as well. I get so hyperfocused on a particular thing or place I am going to and I totally miss things around me. I’m focused on getting the chips from the top of the cupboard and I step on the cat. I’m focused on walking to work and I miss the free pallet on the side of the street. I’m focused on my goals and I miss the opportunity to spend some quality time with my wife or kids. Slow down, Dave! Pay attention!
2) Saw a bit off the line. When I made this cut, I put it dead center on the line. If I would have put it a hair to the right I might have been in a better position. You can always take more off but never put more back on. The lesson here is learn by doing and making mistakes. Do it better the next time.
3) I need more light!!!! The good news is I have more light. The fixture currently hanging over the work area only has one of two tubes that work. I have another one that both of them work. The lesson here is to prioritize my projects in the shop. I’m so anxious to start creating sometimes I don’t take the time to properly get my work area setup to produce the best results. This is kinda the Slow Down thing again. I get like that on other projects at work, too. Sometimes I am so excited to get a solution in place I don’t take enough time to plan and map things out. And then I end up having to redo the work. Much like this piece. I can either straighten out the cut and my project will just be a little shorter (which is likely what I will do) or I need to put this one in the scrap pile and use a new piece. If I would’ve had better light (as in setup my area correctly first) I might have seen how far off the line I was getting and corrected myself.
I didn’t get to do much more than this last night. My neighbor walked in and we started talking. But this one little incident – this 5 minutes of cutting – helped me make all these connections to what I was doing.
Every cut a lesson. Hoping more will be learned tonight.
-- Butchering wood since 2015