The Most Valuable 10 Lessons of My Woodworking

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The Most Valuable 10 Lessons of My Woodworking
1.) All the time I have spent acquiring the latest and greatest in jigs, planes, blades, bits, shaves, and all the other stuff I thought I needed to work wood was never as well spent as the time I could have spent trying to actually work wood.
2.) I need small, frequent "wins." I work and learn more consistently when I break down some process into such small increments that I can accomplish them in one-hour time frames. It may take me _much_ longer to learn a process this way, but I will keep going until I achieve the goal. (I ought to have mitered blind dovetails down by 2015.)
3.) It is worth _any_ expense of time and energy and money for me to find anyone who can teach me a skill I don't know. Even if "he's really good, and I suck." _Especially_ if "he's really good, and I suck." False pride, shame, and fear have no place in an avocation as passionate as working wood.
4.) The craftsmen I most wish to emulate are the ones who take the time to pass on what they have learned. For them, it's not only about the work, it's about people. I want to be like them when I "get good."
5.) Keeping my tools in cases and doored cabinets in a perfectly de-humidified shop will never be more important than keeping them out where I can get to them immediately, humidity and rust goblins be damned. I own relatively few, and since they were a lot of money for me I need to take reasonable care with them, but if I have to stop what I'm doing, or interrupt the flow to get to tools I can't leave out on a bench, I need cheaper tools.
6.) The only thing more important than my concern for the condition of my tools is that if my concern for their condition is preventing me from using them to their utmost in spite of an occasional bashing about, I need cheaper tools.
7.) The time a favorite five-year-old picked up a prized hand saw and I yelled "NO!!!", I killed something. Even if I spend $50,000 on tools someday, I will never be able to buy back the delight in his eyes as he reached for that saw nor will I ever be able to repay what I stole from him that day. The next time I can't coach a kid in my shop with my tools and show him how to use them, I will need cheaper tools.
8.) The projects I make and the time I spend making them will never be as beautiful nor as rewarding as what I make when I put my tools down and answer her: "Sure, honey, I'd be happy to..."
9.) The most precious tools I ever-- or will ever have-- owned were the ones that had "Playskool" on them. On second thought, they may have said "Fischer-Price", I was barely walking at the time and I can't remember which ones my dad gave me when I was so little that the tools looked _big._ I played with them for awhile, but then I "outgrew" them. I would trade not only my current tools, but anything I own, to have those cheap plastic tools back. _Anything._
10.) A couple of hundred years from now when whatever is left of me is merely nourishment for some new tree, the only thing that will matter to the woodworking I will be able to do then is whether I cared about any of the above now.
I'd better, because I want to be working wood forever.
Michael Baglio
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Pure poetry!
"Michael Baglio @nc.rr.com>" <mbaglio<NOSPAM> wrote in message

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Michael,
I applaud your sentiment. I believe you have found the "Zen of woodworking and true enlightenment"!
Lonewolf in Ontario
"Michael Baglio @nc.rr.com>" <mbaglio<NOSPAM> wrote in message

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Very good - I was almost gettin' misty.
"Michael Baglio @nc.rr.com>" <mbaglio<NOSPAM> wrote in message

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Michael,
If you can find a copy of the essay "Murder in the Kitchen" by Allan Watts I'm sure you would appreciate how the philosophy expressed applies to wood working. I don't remember which of his books it was in but a Google search will probably locate a copy of the essay or at least discussion.
Larry
P.S. Check out the lyrics to the old Jefferson Airplane tune "Eskimo Blue Day"
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Larry wrote:

Larry:
Allen Watts!?
Won't be long before Steve Gaskin and Wednesday Night Class are mentioned - on The Wreck of all places. Nex thing you know Larry J will make Lao Tse T-shirts available.
Michael:
Though I'm certain you could've Stepped Off The Wheel a long time ago, thanks for the reminders on what's important and what ain't.
charlie b
ps To the Born Again Christians - maybe this time you'll get it.
pps For any Muslim contemplating martyrdom - 40 virgins - for eternity! That ain't heaven - that's hell you're aiming for. Reconsider - please.
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The Steven Gaskin? As in The Farm? Once upon a time, in a place very far away I had friends who tried to talk me into joining.
Chuck Vance Just say (tmPL) In a sense I *did* join.
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Oow. Number seven hit me right where it hurts. I may be guilty of that particular infraction.
Rob
----------------------------------
"Michael Baglio wrote ...

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dammit... me too. g'dammit... me too...
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Sadly, most of us have done that at one time. At least I have grandkids now and can make up for it a little. Ed
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Yeah, that hit kind of close to home.

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Thank you for #7.
"Michael Baglio @nc.rr.com>" <mbaglio<NOSPAM> wrote in message

snip
snap
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Thank you, Mike--beautifully done. It isn't about woodworking, you know. It's about life.
Bob
"Michael Baglio @nc.rr.com>" <mbaglio<NOSPAM> wrote in message

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Michael, Thanks for sharing that. I hope to be working the wood forever too.
Regarding #7, there's a time to raise an alarmed voice to a Galoot-In-Training (GIT), and that's when the little aspiring wooddorker is (about to) put his/herself in immediate danger. An old rec.normer named Dave Hess used to post a tome called, "A Father's Touch." The bottom line is that we're not so much making projects as making memories.
My off the top of my head list of 10 most valuable lessons i've learned.
1. I'm not perfect, so neither does the project need be in order to be something unique, beautiful, useful and significant.
2. The absolute most satisfying projects are the ones you build for someone you love.
3. It's ok to spend a few hours straightening out the shop, puttering around doing nothing more important than doing a bit of maintenance and dreaming of the next/current project.
4. Five minutes spent drawing/sketching/thinking will usually avoid an hour or five later spent in the moaning chair.
4.a Some days it's best just to go directly to the moaning chair and have a beer.
5. It's not an interruption, it's a chance to show someone what you're working on (sorry bh).
6. Friends/relatives generally don't have an appreciation for a museum of jack planes.
7. The worst day wooddorking is still better than the best Kenny G. concert.
8. Blood is an impressive dye stain.
9. It's difficult to learn while your gums are flapping or you're thinking up a funny retort instead of really paying attention.
10. Every day you leave the shop and can still count to ten without taking off your shoes is a good day.
Humbly submitted, O'Deen
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On 2 Mar 2004 14:51:36 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Patrick Olguin) wrote:

<not snipped - out of due respect>
I be savin' dis.
Humbly received,
Thomas J. Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.) (Real Email is tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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On 2 Mar 2004 14:51:36 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Patrick Olguin) wrote:

Heh... in your throw-the-door-open-and-its-big-as-all-outdoors shop cleaning may be an option but, in a 12X16 shoppette it's downright mandatory. The few hours I do that means I don't spend a few hours wiping up blood, applying ice to banged-up bald heads, etc., etc...

Don't take it too hard. Even Jesus didn't get any play in his own hometown. ("HEY!" Ain't you that carpenter's kid? Get _away_ from me with your "miracles." Go on, now, SCOOT!") ;>

LJ, you paying attention? Got a winning sticker here.

And every one a keeper. 'Specially the one dissin' Kenny G.
Michael
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Patrick Olguin) wrote in message
Just a couple of slight modifications here:

I'm not perfect, and therefore the project *will* *not* *be*, but usually I'm the only one who notices anyway.

They are also the most frustrating unless you make absolutely sure that you know exactly what they want beforehand. Even at that ...

It should be mandatory to do this at least once a month. Sharpening sessions may or may not count depending on the level of your galootitude.

Nothing to add here.

Or see #3 above.

And if it is a younger family member, possibly a chance to interest them in the joys of your hobby. SWMBO'ette #2 thinks I'm crazy because of the time I spend making those curlies, but on more than one occasion she has asked me for a bagful for decorating or wrapping presents.

Nor do they necessarily understand the joy you feel when you show them your collection of ultimate smoothers and ask if they want to see you get a perfect, one-sided shaving.
Corrollary: If they are heavy power tool users, they may look around your shop in dismay, wondering where the machinery went to.

Er, I can't disagree with that, but the best K*nn* G concert would be marginally better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick (or not).

Corrollary A: You will only get it on your work after all the surfaces are perfectly planed.
Corrollary A1: In your effort to remove said bloodstain, you will get horrible tearout in that area and have to smooth the whole surface again.
Corrollary A2: See corrollary A.

No comment.

Amen, my galootish hermano.
Chuck Vance
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On Tue, 02 Mar 2004 04:26:37 GMT, Michael Baglio
<snipped only to appease the bandwidth gods>
Good stuff, Michael.
Thomas J. Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.) (Real Email is tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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wrote:

Yeah, well, truth be told, part of it's your fault. Hadn't thought about #7 in quite some time, but the first time I hit your site and saw
http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1/img118.jpg it all came back in a flash. It's a really good photograph. And he looks like a great kid. I'm thinkin' he probably has a pretty good dad.
Michael
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wrote:

The daughter-in-law brought the grandson-in-perpetual-motion by to visit this afternoon. He's not quite 10 months old. In his hand is a new plastic hammer that makes noises when he shakes it, or bangs it against something. Grandpa couldn't see too clearly there for a minute.
Tom, I like the boy's bench. Goodonya....
Patriarch
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