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Thread: Fear of wood

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

    Fear of wood

    I have a number of unfinished projects because sometimes I get to a point where I am afraid of the next step, thinking it's something that I probably am going to screw up. This is fair, because I've screwed up my share of things in my lifetime. One of those projects has to be restarted because the carefully measured parts have developed some unwanted curves. I wonder if anyone else suffers from this syndrome, where you leave a job because you aren't sure you can complete it properly.

    I have grabbed the bull by the horns this spring and am working on two wooden planes I wanted to build, and some cutting boards for friends. No fear of the cutting boards, but I was concerned about the planes. I have them underway and one is nearing completion, and turned out to be less difficult than I expected. I just realized this spring that if I screw up the job, I can always buy more wood and start again.

    Just me thinking about the jobs as I was putting my tools away for the night...

    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Spitting distance north of Detroit Michigan
    I can't recall leaving a project, but I sure have changed design many-a-time
    Some days I have tons of confidence, most days, ehhh not so much.

  3. #3
    I used to have this notion that whatever I made had to be the very best I could produce the first time I tried. That's a ridiculous notion, but it took a very long time to overcome. My work improved vastly when I finally got over it. Now, I just keep working on something until it's the way I want, and I care almost not at all how long that takes. Ironically, once I overcame my first-time perfectionism my work got much better. I'll bet yours will, too. Sometimes I will give my project a rest (and myself) if I seem to come across some obstacle. When I return to the project I find that the problem now has a solution.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    SW Minnesota
    I was chopping the 1 1/4" square through mortise in the second arm of the slant arm Morris chair that I was making for a Christmas present for my daughter and her husband. I finished it and was dry fitting when I realized that I had chopped the hole in the wrong side of the board. I made a plug from an other piece and filled the hole.

    A 1/4" square is now the shop mark i use in each piece I make.

    A little trick I have learned: Cut your pieces from the biggest to the smallest. That way if you mess up, you can use that piece to make one of the smaller ones.

    Most importantly remember that you are supposed to have fun. It's just a hobby for heavens sake.

    Good advise Bruce!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Villa Park, CA
    I've noticed that many woodworkers seem not to progress in their skills over time, and I believe it's because they're afraid to try new things for fear that they'll not be successful. Other woodworkers seem to only want to do new work because doing the same thing over and over bores them.

    But each finds satisfaction in their choices. You just have to decide what kind of woodworker you are and what gives you the satisfaction you seek in doing woodwork.

    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Lindale, TX
    I've never made a mistake that couldn't be fixed and I've made plenty of mistakes trust me. The worst was sanding through the veneer on a $20,000 table at the end of my apprenticeship. I about puked when it happened, but the fix ended up being easy and that table later won an award in a national competition. Mistakes can be fixed and the fixing is usually the best learning experience you can get. If/when you get stuck, that's what a forum like this one is good for. Post it up and see what the collective brain comes up with as a fix. There's always a fix.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    i think there is another group that tries to make the next project alittle different to gain the new skill set and has grown threw the set back and do the same thing the same way. i havnt gotten bored but do enjoy the learning of new ways. and have made mistakes and agree with mark that there usually is a way to fix it.
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Billings Missouri near Springfield Mo
    I was always told its not how good a woodworker you are but how well you hide your mistakes and thats what I live by
    A Turn N Time
    Components for John Smith Organs and the Hobby Organ Builder

    Frog Pond Guitars

    Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Dennison, MN
    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Tulk View Post
    just realized this spring that if I screw up the job, I can always buy more wood and start again.
    There you have it.

    I screw up a lot. It happens. You either learn something from it, or you don't.
    "Do, or do not. There is no try."

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Thomasville, GA
    It's not unusual to hit a wall (or three) at some point in a project. When that happens, I do what others have said: walk away or change focus in some way. If I stand there looking at something that doesn't seem to be working out, I get to where I can no longer see it for looking at it!!! Sometimes, I'll stroll around the yard to get some fresh air; other times I'll focus on another task in the shop. Whatever the case, when I go back to the original project, a solution suddenly appears!

    Finish has always been my wall, even if everything else falls into place. I've been bad about trying different types of finish just for the experience. Although I know I can trust finishes like EM6000 and its associated products, I've branched out to find out about other products. That bit me on the nose on my credenza project when I used some pre-cat lacquer on the top for toughness and it started failing (cracking up) after a few weeks. I'm not concerned about having to re-do the finish; it's an inconvenience that will have to wait until I finish my platform bed and nightstand so I'll have room!

    I know my problem is brain cramps! I tend to over-think a task at times and make it seem harder than it has to be. Knowing that about myself makes me face that fact, deal with it and move on with life.
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

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