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Thread: Getting into the detail

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Getting into the detail

    Well i saw a post on a blog that i cannot find again, so i have to try to repeat the concept so bare with me i dont think i can be as concise as the guy who wrote it.

    The issue that was brought up on this blog was one of "being to geeky" in woodworking and getting too deep into the detail.

    The blog attracted me to read it because i am particularly one for detail to a certain extent and it has been known to be said to me by more than one person including SWMBO (yeah that is who she is today) that i have this habit.

    The blogger concluded that if this helps your woodworking do so and there is nothing wrong with it.

    Well that was not enough for me. I felt the need to defend this approach more than ever before, not because i want to be right, be seen to be right but for the evidence that i have stacked up in favor of my view.

    See i like to look at the facts and have facts rather than heresay govern thinking. I am willing to change just about anything if the facts demonstrate the benefits and i am incentivized by those benefits.

    Yesterday my son came home from school (he is currently taking a year of construction techniques...new word for shop) and started telling me with great excitement about the way lumber is cut. Yup he used a big word lumber as opposed to wood. Then he got into the detail of the merits of the different cuts, man he even sprouted out about quatersawn wood and its merits. I was speechless to say the least. I thought this guy was lost to the world of football, hockey and video games. None of which are my fantasies.

    But the point reinforced for me the neccesity to get into that detail.

    I set up my shop at around age 48/9 I am now 52/3 and for the past few years have not really put out that much from my shop. I have learnt a great deal in the past years. I have a lot of fun out there, learning.

    See i plan on doing woodworking as a hobby for as long as i can. So I am in no rush to have output, not that i would not like to finish a project or two.

    But i came to the conclusion some time ago that if i merely continue to wing it, I will never achieve the kind of woodworking i desire.

    To me its not about the precision of our gauges that today approximate what i saw used in an engeering tool room of a plastic molding company when i was 15, its about the comprehensive understanding of the "art" of working wood.

    If we go back as Christopher Schwarz of popular woodworking does into the 18th century, we find that an apprentice did not just come into the shop and start out making furniture. They did not have fancy tormeks or worksharp jigs to sharpen their tools and they certainly did not have any fancy router lifts or INCRA aids and accessories.

    Now i dont believe we have to go back to the stoneage to enjoy woodworking and i like gadgets probably more than the next man.

    But i have come to believe that there are things we to take the time to trully understand if we are to do more than the diy fix up or struggle through a project.

    So if you are like me, and enjoy working through the detail of specific facets of woodworking, the wood, the tools and how they used "properly" feel at ease that you are not a woodworking GEEK with geek used in the socially negative way that it was when i was at school.

    Think of yourself rather as an apprentice working through a curriculum which will one day result in you being able to take on any project and make a success of it.
    cheers

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    That's interesting, Rob. I have to say I'm like that to a certain extent. It makes me slower to produce stuff, but it makes me feel more confident about what I do and why I do it. Maybe it's a girl-thing, or maybe it's just because I didn't grow up like many of you, working with all these tools. I want to understand them. How do they work? How are they *supposed* to work? I know in time I'll be more productive with projects and do them faster, but there's a steep learning curve when you start from zero. And that's why I always ask so many questions....
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  3. #3
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    Nov 2006
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    Delton, Michigan
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    well rob i had a conversation last night with a guy and his statement was that he could make this kind of project if he had my tools..well as most logical folks know the tools dont make the project the user does.. but many think that the tools are why something comes great..yes new tools today have made alot of things easier than in the old days but it also make mistakes easier as well.. you can cut your finger with a hand saw but you really shouldnt cut it off unless your numb.. a table saw is another matter.. learn the tools and then how to use use them efficiently
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by larry merlau View Post
    well rob i had a conversation last night with a guy and his statement was that he could make this kind of project if he had my tools.
    I think NOT.

    That reminds me of someone I used to know someone who played world-class judo. He used to say that a good tennis player can play with an old umbrella......
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Amherst, New Hampshire
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    I understand your thinking and applaud the way you go about your woodworking.

    I can't help but remember the person I bought a used craftsman contractors table saw from about 3 years ago. The saw was about 5 years old but it was in brand new condition. He replaced it with a new Unisaw. His shop was stocked with all the latest and greatest tools and gadgets. As far as I could see he was wanting for nothing. When I asked him what he has built he told me nothing yet he still needed to buy more tools and jigs to make what ever it was he wanted to make.

    I look at things a little different. I certainly want to know the pleasure of learning new stuff about wood and woodworking but I have to learn by doing. I get my learning experience by trying to build more difficult projects each time. I may practice a new joint or technique a couple of times before I commit to the actual part but thats about it. If I waited to build something until I thought I had all the tools and knowledge to do it I would still be building book cases out of cinder blocks and pine boards.

    If I can get a super sharp chisel or plane by using a machine to do it thats all I care about. Thats it's fast and sharp and makes my job easier is my only goal.

    The whisper of a sharp plane across the wood is nice and peaceful. But give me the surge of power when a 3 hp motor kicks in any day

    Everyone is different and motivated by different things. In the end I guess whatever method pleases you and makes you a better woodworker is the right way for you.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Delton, Michigan
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    now all we need to do jim is find that golden tool that does it all and needs no operator.. some guy named rumplestiltskin had a line of them i think
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Bellingham
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    2,449
    Another thought provoking post, Rob. Woodworking is a hobby for me. My approach to this hobby is the same as for the others I have; I want to be the best I can at it. My intent is to develop the knowledge and skill necessary to be considered a craftsman in woodworking. I did not get into this hobby because I wanted to build bookcases cheaper than what I can buy them for. I got into it so that I could build bookcases better than what I can buy them for. I am enjoying the process as much as the result.

    The reason my interest in woodworking has diverged into handtools, is my realization or belief that I could never achieve my lofty goal without a masterly of handtools. The last two nights I have spent experimenting and perfecting the technique I am going to use in rabbeting the very thin bottoms of my tool box's sliding trays. I went through using my moving fillister, rabbet plane and router plane. None of it was wasted time, as I continue to master and refine my techniques with each plane. That is the crux of woodworking as posters above have alluded to. Getting the tool is only the first step, learning how to use it properly and bring out its full potential is the hard part. Even something like flattening a face on a power jointer takes a certain technique that must be acquired. This skill does not come with the machine or tool, it must be learned by doing.
    “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” - John Ruskin
    “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” - Oscar Wilde

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