I, like you, have fallen victim to New Years resolution failure. Gym memberships and the like have come and gone. At one point I decided I would be a vegetarian but the delicious draw of ham is just too powerful. So, I don’t make resolutions anymore. I have tried to make goals instead. We use goals a lot at my job and I hate the process, the definition of SMART goals take up brain cells that should be devoted to obscure Star Wars facts or AC/DC lyrics. But the goals I write about here are different. I feel that I continue to take steps in my journey to a mediocre woodworker and there are certain things I want to make sure I accomplish this coming year:

Finish the two in-process projects: I need to finish the small wall cabinet for my dad, you know, the one I started like a year ago. I have found it a very rewarding but slow project. This is the first on the list. Second is that stupid workbench, you know, the one I started like two years ago. It will be awesome when I get it done but, as I have written previously, it just is not the type of project that gets me super motivated. I need to overcome that and get it done. I am hoping to start another project at some point after those two are done. It feels like woodworking is an endless universe of things I want to try. Boxes, spoons, green wood projects, tool chest, etc. etc. etc… However, in the never ending war for my free time home improvement time continues to soundly defeat woodworking time. So I need to choose wisely in what I build next. Probably a piece of furniture, end table maybe, for the home. Something I would see everyday.

End piece of workbench be like “don’t forget about me!”

Improve sawing technique: I still suck at sawing. As a result I tend to stay far off my line, which costs more time in cleaning up the cut. The cure is to get less sucky at sawing.

Design design design: I am fascinated by the process of design. I have developed an eye for what I like and what I don’t like. I will often see furniture that just look too clunky to me, but I do not have enough of an eye to determine why it’s clunky to me and where I would make changes. With the aforementioned bitched-about lack of woodworking time it’s not like I can build a bunch of stuff, but it doesn’t mean I can’t take time to design and draw out concepts that would at least help me develop my “style.” Enjoy that double negative, btw.

So, here’s to a New Year with new goals and new (and old) projects and skill development!


progress not perfection

The process of hand cutting dovetails for my small wall cabinet build has been interesting. It has been several years since I took my box making class, which was the last time I cut this joint. At first I considered not using dovetails at all, but decided that it was clearly the proper joint to use on the carcass. Also, the only way I am going to get comfortable cutting dovetails is to actually make some.  There is, however, a problem with that strategy. My first dovetails are probably going to suck. Now, I could practice on scrap wood or something, I guess, but that’s not how I roll. If I’m gonna cut dovetails they might as well be on something real. So, I walked right up to the boards and cut my first joint in several years. Not surprisingly, it was just plain shitty. Most of the shittiness was based on me out thinking myself. I tried the trick where you cut a shallow rabbet into the tail board to help line it up to the pin board for marking and it was a disaster. The rabbet ended up being a little off square which caused a humongous gap. After taking a break and getting my nerve back up I tried again. On the second joint I simplified things by dropping the rabbet deal and it was a lot better. Not good, still super gappy, but the best dovetail I had ever cut nonetheless.

The second, less shitty one
I was pretty damn happy with myself. So much so that I posted a picture of said joint on my Instagram account. I was typing in the hashtag #progress when the suggestion #progressnotperfection popped up. By the looks of it, on Insta at least, this hashtag is used mostly by sweaty people who have just completed a workout. Although I have been described as “sweaty” before, the rest of it didn’t really fit. However, I still went ahead and used that hashtag because it really resonated with me. Hand cutting dovetails without any saw guides is essentially using hand tools freehand. I will not be perfect on the first or third attempt, if ever. But I should not be striving for perfection, I should strive to be better, to improve each time I perform some action or process. I am going to try to apply this is all parts of my woodworking, and to remember it’s a journey.
tl;dr: My woodworking is kinda shitty right now. My goal is to make it less shitty.