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_
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.