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!


awesome bench

One of the first things you need to start woodworking is a good bench, they say (“they” meaning most everyone who gives woodworking advice on the Internet). It makes sense, I mean, you have to build your project on something, right? My first project was a bench, of sorts, a milkman’s workbench to help with holding work on my rickety porch table. I didn’t trick it out to the level it was meant to be, never adding the wood screws in front or putting on finish. I did add a veneer press to act as a sort of end vice but it never worked that well and finally kinda fell off.

The people who owned our house before us left several things behind including the world’s smallest oven, stained carpet (seriously, what the hell was that?!?), and a high bench-looking monstrosity in the garage. When I first saw this “bench” I scoffed, thinking it was about as useful as the stained carpet (was it soda? Lord, I hope it was soda). No, I thought, this bench (Shitty Bench, as I call him) with its wobbly construction and nails poking out at odd spots, this is not a bench fit for a True Woodworker. Now, I was not above using it, it was after all, already there there and I had stuff to do, but the whole time I was planning for the Awesome Workbench. I bought books, watched and even bought some videos, and fretted. I finally decided I would go with an English bench style mostly following Chris Schwarz’s design but incorporating a lot of the hand tool techniques (especially using nails in the construction) I learned in Richard Maguire’s videos. I was so happy how awesome Awesome Bench would be. So I started building… and here I am, still… building…

Nice shavings, shitty bench

As all this went down I discovered something about my woodworking self. I don’t like shop projects all that much, well, at least shop bench projects. And, as much as I KNOW I will love having a proper flat, stable work surface, I just can’t get into the work of building it as much as I am into building other stuff. Last December my nephews helped me flip over Shitty Bench and saw some height off it, greatly increasing its efficiency and greatly reducing my back pain when planing. So, while Shitty Bench is still shitty, it is usable and remains my primary work surface.

The awesomeness slowly takes shape… very slowly…

I really want to start building a smallish wall cabinet by the beginning of July. This gives me the rest of this month to finish up some DIY related stuff and maybe make some progress on Awesome Bench. But who are we kidding? I would just rather spend my limited time in the shop working on stuff destined to leave it.

Featured image is from Mendel’s and Landauer’s house books, as discussed on Lost Art Press blog