When I work with beginning woodworkers, I’ve noticed a strange and consistent tendency relating to the tidiness of their work.
When building something small – like a marking gauge or a dovetailed box – they fuss over every fiber, inside and out. That’s a good thing because small objects receive close scrutiny.
But when building something large – like a trestle table – they are much more sloppy and tolerate a surprising array of defects and mistakes. For some reason, the overall form is more important than the details.
I see the same sloppiness creep into projects that are simple. Because the thing is nailed together, it’s suddenly OK to have some tear-out on a show surface or to spelch a corner. Complex projects, on the other hand, tend to get a lot of love and attention.
The best woodworkers I know will build a crate with regularly spaced nails, flush surfaces all around and even chamfers where you grab it. They take the same care with building a shop jig as they do a veneered chest of drawers. There is only one level of quality.
This is a hard lesson to learn when you make furniture for money because you can starve. But if you put in the long hours doing everything the best way possible, you will quickly become swift at setting nail heads flush without damaging the wood, your show surfaces will be clean and your doors smartly hung on the first try.
Start small with this approach. The next time you have to hang a picture for your spouse or install some hooks for coffee mugs, aim for perfection. Then let it creep into all aspects of your work.
Lost Art Press hooded sweatshirts are now available for international customers with a reasonable shipping fee.
The mid-weight sweatshirts are made in the United States by American Apparel and the fit is a bit slim. So you might consider ordering one size larger than normal. The sweatshirts are available in sizes small to 2XL. We wish this product were made in larger and smaller sizes, but it is not.
All of our shirts are printed in California and shipped from there by a service that specializes in custom apparel. Because of the company’s volume, the shipping charge for international customers is reasonable – $10 to Canada and $11 anywhere else in the world.
You never should attack a foe
Until his arms and strength you know:
And this we’ll clearly shew in
The tale that we shall here relate,
Of the catastrophe and fate
Of Mistress Bridgit Bruin.
One day, a saw-mill she came near,
Just at the time the sawyer’s cheer
Was brought him for his dinner;
It smells right sweetly, quoth the beast,
I’m hungry, and I’ll have a feast,
As sure as I’m a sinner.
Sawyer, do you be off, said she.
And leave your saw-mill here to me,
To learn the art of sawing;
And do you lay that dinner down
Upon the log there, or, you clown,
Your carcase I’ll be pawing. (more…)
The saying “A workman is known by his tools” is probably as old as “A workman is known by his chips,” and, while generally speaking it is true, there are exceptions to it. I have seen many excellent workmen who carried very complete sets of tools kept in excellent condition, and I have seen other men with sets just as complete and in as good condition who were not able to do a fairly good piece of turning in an engine lathe.
I have had in my employ men who hadn’t as much as a scale or a monkey-wrench, yet who could work all around some of the boys who had a chest full of the most modern tools. That is, they could for about three weeks out of the month; the other week they were either drunk or getting over it. They had sense enough to keep away from the shop, and the evening before they were ready to come to work they would come sneaking around to the house to see if they could “come in to-morrow morning.” promising all sorts of things if they were given just one more chance, and up to a limit this class generally succeed in getting the chance. (more…)