What is your approach to woodworking?

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I suspect my approach might be a little different, but I'd be interested to see how much.
The material I use is predominantly highly figured pine. This is mainly because my current wife, (I have had one less than Henry VIII,) really likes it and considers high quality timbers like Jarrah to be bland. (Not me Phully, it's the missus that thinks that.) Suits me, because with patience and a little conniving, I can buy it here for a song and she gets what she wants, I get tons of the stuff to play with and it's a very cheap hobby. (The pine is structural reject timber in the main)
I never buy wood for specific project, - a self-imposed restriction is that I must use what I have at the time. As I've acquired more machinery, that has become much easier. If my wife wanted something built from Tassie Oak, for example, the reply would be "Sorry, no can do." Same with a fixed design. Not interested. It's really not that much of a restriction, - most of us could build a world class heavy workbench from matchsticks if we chose.
I don't do plans and won't adhere to a specific design idea. I start with a concept, work out in my head how I'm going to achieve that with what I have to hand and let it evolve from there. (The "make do with what you have" approach instilled in me growing up on farm.) Not afraid to make radical changes as I go along. Surprisingly, I waste very little wood in spite of these changes. (Glue is truly a wonderful thing.) I'm no fine woodworker and don't aspire to be. Those of you who are professionals or skilled craftsmen would be doubtless be horrified by some of my approaches. To make something strong, functional, useful and pleasing to me is my aim.
Therein, lies the joy of wookwork for me, - the challenge and satisfaction of creating something that reflects my own (lack of) skills, experience and free will, - not what some plan requires of me. Sounds artistic, but I'm certainly no artist.
So what's your approach?
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Like getting on a horse, or my politics, from the left.
;-)
D'ohBoy
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Good plan - stick with it. There are better woodworkers than me, but very few who enjoy making sawdust as much as I do.
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diggerop wrote:

I read somewhere, and I have observed it to generally be true, that people get what they want from their activities. Most often, what people say they want is different from what they really want. However, in your case, I think you've been careful at sifting out what it is you are after from woodworking, at least for today. Next month, or next year, what you need, may change. You say you are no artist, but I'll bet you'll step right up to the plate should the need arise...

Just like yours--as individual as my needs.
Peace, Bill
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So very much of what you said also describes what I did in my shop. I never used plans, but if I saw something I liked, such as the gumball dispensers, I felt free to make my own version. Most of the shop math was done on envelopes, scrap paper and the occasional piece of white oak. The wood I used ranged from cypress (for Jake's Chairs and footstools) to walnut and cherry for things to give away or have in the house. I did one cabinet in rock maple and a great room set of tables etc. in white oak. Generally, though, I'd go with the cherry and walnut, since so much was labor intensive and if I was gonna' put in that much time, the cost of materials was minor.
One wood I had that was great as long as it lasted was aromatic red cedar from my own property. Whenever I would clean out an area of trees, I'd save the bigger logs in my basement, cutting them up as needed. It was fun, the smell was great and that stuff is hard as a rock in a few years.
There was a hardwood wholesaler in our area where I'd get my rough lumber: particularly the walnut and cherry. One morning I went by the place to pick up a bit and met the two owners by the front door. The place had been cleaned out overnight by them of the machinery, front store inventory and virtually all of the most valuable hardwood inventory in the back. They couldn't hack it financially with the two locations, and had decided to stage a retreat from the store in our town. The guy told me that he was leaving the back roll-up door unlocked and that I could have anything I found in the place.
I had my 1-ton dually pickup and by the time I drove away, locking the door behind me, the front wheels were barely touching the pavement. Most of what I got was short stuff, cracked or warped, since they took the good stuff to their other store. However, for a guy who had a 20" planer, raised bandsaw and a lot of patience, I didn't need to buy much after that one trip "to the store." <gloat and grin>
Incidentally, something I learned about myself over the years was that I really didn't enjoy building a project again. For instance, I had loads of patience building things like the gumball dispensers, coasters, coaster holders etc., but to do it again a year later had no interest to me.
--
Nonny

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You suck so much I bet you don't need a shop Vac :) A great score

Interesting. That's me to a "T" For me it stems from way back. I have a tendency to totally immerse myself in things, then having done that, totally lose interest. That's with everything in life, right from when I was an anklebiter. Started before I went to school, my Mother began to teach me a few basics in reading and writing. I soaked it up like a sponge. By the time I got to starting school, and my classmates were starting to learn their ABC's, I was reading the daily paper. Caused me, my teachers and classmates no end of problems. They coped by letting me do my own thing, allowing me to decide which classes I wanted to be in. I jumped several grades but it didn't help much. Which was a demonstartion of their inability to cope. I never studied. No point when I already knew the answers. By that stage I was a very bored, very frustrated troublemaker and a had a bad attitude. That set a pattern for me. Couldn't stay with anything unless there was a large continuous challenge that didn't involve mundane paperwork. (I wouldn't wish growing up like that on my worst enemy.) Woodwork is one of few the things that I haven't consumed and then walked away disinterested from. The endless possibilities, the chance for innovation and the freedom of expression has been very good for me and continues to be so.
diggerop
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diggerop wrote: ...

What you said, and "using/having/knowing how to use" tools extends our individual "reach". Striving to understand this leads to a better understanding of "humanity", I think.
In short, tools are just plain cool! : )
Bill
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Especially handplanes. Using a nice sharp one and raising a little sweat flattening a board is good for the soul, I reckon. : )
diggerop
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diggerop wrote:

My approach is to try to learn something new with every project--not too difficult considering the depth of woodworking ignorance I started with. I usually sketch out a plan and don't make any sawdust until I have at least the basic structure set, but I'm not the sort to spend weeks with a CAD program plotting everything down to a 64th of an inch. While I realize that better preparation produces better final results, I also know that correcting mistakes is highly educational. I usually buy materials for every new project since aside from cut-offs and reclaimed wood I don't keep much wood on hand--don't have the room. I started off buying cheap tools but quickly decided I'd rather pay for superior tools than struggle with poor ones, so now I research every tool I buy and pay what it takes to get a good one. I make a point of quickly and conspicuously using any new tool so SWMBO doesn't raise an eyebrow the next time I want to buy a tool. The nicest compliment I can think of in regard to woodworking is when someone asks me if I could make one just like that for their home--which reminds me, I have a Christmas present to finish.
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That's the payoff isn't it. The feeling that gives makes it all worthwhile.
diggerop
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diggerop wrote:

Yup, if someone wants one to put in their front hall then they aren't just *saying* it looks nice.
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I see alot of those themes in my own approach.
I have zero interest in (other people's) plans. Half the fun is designing something to meet my own personally weighted fiscal, functional and aesthetic criteria.
I try not to buy wood per project. But I will is a ver specific need arises.
When the opportunity presents itself I buy wood in volmume in the cheap. For me, I want to be able to go out to the barn, pull some stock off the pile and start making sawdust without fiscal remorse.
That's a whole lot easier when I know that I paid $1/bdft on craigs list.
I know have an inventory approaching 2K bd ft. which includes Oak, Maple, Cherry, Ash, and Poplar. I always try to use smallest lowest grade stick that will do the job.
-Steve

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A kindred soul. Nice to know I'm not alone in the world. : )
diggerop
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On Fri, 13 Nov 2009 04:53:31 +0800, the infamous "diggerop"

Smallest stick for the job, good. But always the lowest grade? When will you ever use any of the best grade? That 2kbf will outlast you guys through your great grandsons, even if you have several.
I don't understand that thinking. My 93 y/o neighbor won't wear his suit or any of his decent shirts anywhere because "they're only for something special." He has 40 y/o shirts which have never been worn (or worn only once) for that reason.
Ah doona unnerstan it.
-- You know, in about 40 years, we'll have literally thousands of OLD LADIES running around with TATTOOS, and Rap Music will be the Golden Oldies. Now that's SCARY! --Maxine
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Lowest grade that will do the job makes sense to to me. Any high grade timber that is still there for the grandsons will have appreciated in value better than cash in the bank. If there is any left, they'll pay homage to his foresight every time they use some of it.

Aye, then ye will nae ken the canny Scot, laddie. Never spend a penny when a ha'penny will do. Every mickle makes a muckle. : )
diggerop
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Like the 25bf of Dalbergia Nigra (pre-cites) I've been saving for the right project?
s
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It's been my experience with having a big pile of wood that it looks like a big pile until you try to do something.... I had about 5-600 bf of white oak, all sawn from the same tree that I thought would makes a lot of nice projects. The reality is that I have had problems on a couple projects with grain and color matching. I handled every one of those boards repeatedly and skip-planed many of them in an attempt to get the look I was after. Ran into the same thing recently with my walnut... it was sawn to various thicknesses and orientations but trying to get the right combinations of thickness, figure, etc., proved very difficult. The only way I pulled off a quilt rack was to resaw a 6"x8"x6' piece. The 4/4, 5/4 and 6/4 boards didn't work out either due to thickness, sawing orientation, figure or color.
One of the reasons I picked up a 36" Crescent bandsaw off Craig's List was so that I could saw short logs into whatever boards I wanted... flat, quarter, rift of whatever thickness. I think this saw will let me tap into the seemingly endless supply of free trees that are available. Recently someone listed a free cherry tree that was sawn to log lengths. Couldn't move fast enough and someone else snapped it up (probably for firewood!).
More wood is always better than less wood!
John
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On Sat, 14 Nov 2009 04:44:27 +0800, the infamous "diggerop"

You spent the money for the wood, so why shouldn't you use at least _some_ of the GOOD STUFF? That's what I don't understand.

The heard that the Scots invented the velcro wallet so they could hear it SCREAM every time it was opened up.
-- You know, in about 40 years, we'll have literally thousands of OLD LADIES running around with TATTOOS, and Rap Music will be the Golden Oldies. Now that's SCARY! --Maxine
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scrawled the following:

True I'm sure.
My Scottish grandfather maintained that the definition of perpetual motion, was two Scots chasing each other around in a circle, each trying to present the other with a bill.
diggerop
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Somebody wrote:

Had an uncle, German not Scot, who was so tight that he squeaked so bad you could hear him coming from 5 miles away.
Lew
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