Please Doctors, beat me up!

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Blog entry by KnickKnack posted 05-18-2012 06:26 PM 2664 reads 0 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

There have been a number of threads over the years about criticism, or lack thereof, on projects.

I haven’t done any serious woodworking for a few weeks – I’ve made some shelves, but that was more a “job of work” rather than anything creative (I tried to be a bit creative, but what with time-pressure too…).
I’ve spent a lot of time looking through my previous stuff, and at a lot of the pictures I’ve grabbed over the years, and doing drawings, and thinking through some ideas.

But I’m a bit stuck.

There’s something “wrong” with my work to date.
I think there are some interesting ideas in some of those things somewhere, but I don’t think I’ve been able to transform some of those ideas into “great work”.
And, honestly, “Great” is what I’m aiming for – I wrote a blog about the “Cartier box” a while back, and that still holds true – I’d like people to do a “double-take” if they were to pass and see it in a shop. That’s the aim point – I really don’t expect to actually get there, but I want to be getting a lot closer than i currently am, or at least heading in the right direction.

This example has been sitting on my desk since the day I finished it (empty, by the way). I think it’s great. But great with a small “g”.

I’ve spent hours looking at it, trying to work out how to capitalize that “g” – without success.

So, please – beat me up! – I can take it.

PS – I know my joinery sometimes leaves a bit to be desired, but don’t let that stop you.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

21 comments so far

View Bertha's profile


13567 posts in 3199 days

#1 posted 05-18-2012 06:34 PM

I think it’s beautiful, but that’s not what you’re here for. Could it be that it’s simply not your style? It’s not mine, but that’s beside the point. I think it’s symmetrical and visually pleasing. You’re leaving yourself with a lot of end-on-end joints, which is a challenge aesthetically. The grain flows perfectly over the top but I’m wondering if a different light-colored wood wouldn’t have pleased you more, one with less linear, porous grain. The finish is a little bright for me and the unfinished(?) parts stand out in this photo. All that end-grain en face is a like or love thing. I actually like it, but others clearly don’t.
I think it’s really handsome and well executed. It’s just outside of the squarish things that register in my brain. I doubt you’ll get a ton of criticism, but I look forward to the comments.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3523 days

#2 posted 05-18-2012 06:37 PM

To get the large “g” you have to hit and hold the shift button as you type the “G”. Is that what you were looking for? ;-)

This is a nice looking box by the way!

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Bertha's profile


13567 posts in 3199 days

#3 posted 05-18-2012 06:41 PM

^lol, Bearpie!
or you could just go with a different word:)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3621 days

#4 posted 05-18-2012 06:59 PM

here is ten cold kicked up in your A.. follow by a hug to get the tears out of your eyes :-)

it doesn´t need more maybee less … I don´t know
but here you play both with form and colours of different woods
useing three colours can often be too little or the oppesit

so don´t blame your self on this one ….. back on the shelf with it so its mostly out of your mind
it will maybee take ten years or never before you see how it can be done
when you walk a patch of your own ….. be aware that you will make scrappy pieces 20 times
before you succes with one to your own satisfaction
it have never been easy to make art

good luck with the next creation

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10732 posts in 4558 days

#5 posted 05-18-2012 07:00 PM

I think it’s very Pretty, Unique, and thought provoking like looking at some art.

When I first saw it, I wondered what it was… Unique book-ends of some sort? No… then I clicked and eventually saw it and what it was!

What makes anything Great?

Well, IMHO, it is what makes you happier than anything else…
You just Love it!
You admire it as you open & close it…
You can sit at your desk and just LOOK at it… and say to yourself…
”Man, I sure Like that box… I really do like it a lot… I LOVE that box!”
... and it makes you feel SO GOOD just looking at it!

That experience, to me, makes it G r e a t !!

So, it’s all in your mind… you are seeing it in ‘person’... you are enjoying it…

If you like it That much, it is truly GREAT!

Enjoy it!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View AaronK's profile


1508 posts in 3970 days

#6 posted 05-18-2012 07:19 PM

I wonder if the proportion of the various elements could be improved. To me it seems like the dark parts are decorative elements while the light parts are functional. The dark parts seem to me to be a bit too bold, basically that they’re too large and/or puffy. Of course it might just be a matter of taste – I tend to prefer things more delicate and think that things are generally overbuilt ;-)

good luck!

View Steven Davis's profile

Steven Davis

118 posts in 3420 days

#7 posted 05-18-2012 07:49 PM

I think the difference between very good and great is the attention to detail. Not just the joinery, but the suitability to function.

Especially the suitability to function.

It is not about the work you did, but the experience of the user. The well shaped handle, the lining, the feel of the product. It may not even have anything to do with woodworking… did you put felt on the feet of the box so it doesn’t mar a shelf.

As usual, ask your spouse! :) Look at pieces you think are great and see if it is the size or proportions.

A non-woodworking example: I was in Las Vegas for a business trip at the Bellaggio. The place was luxurious, but I could not figure out why until I looked carefully around me, after all, it was just another hotel. The rooms were just a couple of feet bigger in all dimensions. The trim level was just that much nicer. Things felt and looked not just good, but better.

Good luck!


-- Steven Davis - see me at

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 3119 days

#8 posted 05-18-2012 08:30 PM

KnickKnack you have looked at it long enough with those eyes and you already know its not what it should be ,now close those eyes and look at what you want it to be and you will see it ,as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3044 days

#9 posted 05-18-2012 09:32 PM

My 2 cents:

As one who has studied a lot about design/pattern/ornamentation lately…blog post to come.

When I first looked at it, like others I wondered what it was, and what was it’s purpose. I think making something simply to make it may not always appeal to your innate sense, because no matter how beautiful it is you wonder- what will I use it for??

Then you arrive at the issue of taste, and in this case for me: I’m not a huge fan of the contrast in the wood colors. I do love contrast but there are three colors of wood, and that seems too busy.

The last thing I think of when I look at it is proportion and scale. Don’t be afraid to go smaller and more delicate if it is going to be a box and no one is going to yank on it or jump up and down on it. I find myself being too afraid that something will not be strong enough and am disappointed in the end result because it is too thick/heavy.

I like the execution after reading the post and the grain matching is swell, but it just plain seems a little bulky and thick-walled to me.

The challenge is to take the materials we love: WOOD, and within our budget/time/skill limitation create something functional and beautiful. If it has no function and it is just to look at pull out all the stops. I like what you’ve done and your on the right track.

This is what I love about the web-site, you can see some great ideas and get inspiration and hopefully some short-cuts. You can ask for honest advice and get great feedback. One article I read in FWW back in the day suggested drawing the thing you want to make at least 100 times. Some editors gave 3 projects to a “guru” and asked how they could improve upon it. One was a book shelf, one was a Kreov syle cabinet, and I don’t remember the last one, but they redesigned it and gave some great pointers along the way. I will try and look up the article because it is a great resource for what you are looking for.

Best of luck!

-- I never finish anyth

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3044 days

#10 posted 05-18-2012 09:48 PM

Found it:

The Article is called “A Visit to the Design Doctor” In FWW October 2010, Issue 214, page 60.

Great article about getting past that plateau and making the piece go from “oh” to WHOOOOOOA.

-- I never finish anyth

View EROCK's profile


86 posts in 3597 days

#11 posted 05-18-2012 11:04 PM

The concept on this box is great. I like the design and really, I think that 3 colors of wood do work with this box.

What does seem off to me is the weight/balance of the materials used. In my opinion, the end pieces could be thinner, with the center pieces sitting closer to flush with the lid and front.

It is a great looking box, and the design is soooo close to having that “capital g”

Keep it up. I do like a lot of your other projects you’ve posted before. I can tell that you’re enjoying your work. That’s the most important part!

-- Eric, Seattle Washington - Sawdust Maker

View ITnerd's profile


263 posts in 3105 days

#12 posted 05-18-2012 11:47 PM

I think its a fantastic box. There was an article about a guy (the backpage of one of the woodworking magazines i get), who has stuck with the same design, doing slight tweaks over the years. I feel this design is definitely worthy of having some fun with a few different variations.

I think the easiest place to start is with the dimensions – maybe a bit wider, so it seems like more box less meat on the sides? I think if you flatten it much, you’d need to revisit the proportions of the side panels.

Maybe give it a waist, a very suble hollow on the two side panels? I would consider doing something similar to the front red peg, tapering it or give it a little pinch.

If going the Jessica Rabbit route is not your fancy, perhaps hardening some of the roundovers – make them smaller or less pronounced? I might start with a crisper top corner on the side panels, or even go with a multifaceted bevel.

I might also try to bevel the end grain of the side panels in towards the front face – leaving the same gap (or some multiplier) as the side stand proud of the top surface.

If you are feeling very Japanese, make one of the side panels just a bit thicker, to catch the eye. Asymmetry can have very interesting effects. Some people find it striking, other people will shudder at the thought and have to double up meds – it sounds like you might enjoy trying a love/hate box, since you already have a damned nice one there.

You can always send me the original if its giving you Craftsmans block – Mom didn’t like the Sandusky Jack plane much. ;)

Thanks for the thought provoking post – best of luck on your journey,


-- Chris @ Atlanta - JGM - Occam's razor tells us that when you hear hoofs, think horses not zebras.

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 4225 days

#13 posted 05-19-2012 03:26 AM

I would add that the thick ends being up give you a “wrong” feeling. The base should look wider at the bottom. It looks good and you’ll get it to Great.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View Bertha's profile


13567 posts in 3199 days

#14 posted 05-19-2012 09:52 AM

I was hoping this thread would have 1000 hits when I checked it. I knew the suggestions would help my own woodwork. And I wasn’t let down with Chris’s post above. I’m going to steal some of that advice, if you don’t mind:)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3372 days

#15 posted 05-19-2012 11:44 AM

It’s one of the most unique that I’ve seen and very well done. However, I think that it would look better if you took the two sides and flipped them over where the big end is on the bottom. Leave the middle the way it is with big end on top.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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