Lessons Learned... from woodworking

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Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 12-18-2011 04:07 PM 2070 reads 1 time favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch


Since joining “1809 days ago”, I have learned a lot about woodworking and about woodworkers in general. Today, a thought popped into my head and I realized that woodworking also teaches some great skills for living life in general.

Imagine getting ready to work on some project and you pick up a piece of wood that is “flawed” in some way. As a woodworker, what do you do? Do you rant and rave and attack Mother Nature, the Creator, the trees, and the lumberyard for the terrible job they have done making the piece of wood that you want to use? Well, perhaps for a moment—but then you get down to business and you start to problem-solve:

  • can you make the piece of wood work, as is, with a little tender loving care?
  • can you incorporate the “flaw” into the project making it even more special than initially planned?
  • can you salvage pieces of the wood to be used in a different manner than expected?
  • can the wood be used for a different project all together, instead of this one?
  • would the wood best be used as a heat source, for which you will also be grateful?

As a woodworker, you contemplate, you assess, you choose a plan of action, and you move forward, undaunted by a challenge that probably wasn’t the first time it appeared in your life and also will most likely not be the last time you are confronted with such a dilemma.

Woodworkers are problem-solvers. They are goal-oriented. They are creative thinkers, able to form and follow through with back-up plans. They are persistent. And they are positive thinkers: there is a way!

Most of us know at least one person who could benefit from some of these skills. They get stuck on the problem and continually rehash it and spread the gloom and doom to anyone who will listen. The phrase “misery loves company” comes to mind. Their problem-solving skills, for some reason, get stuck at thinking of new ways to see the “wrongs” that have been committed (typically “to” them), intent on validating their negative view of the situation. And along with this huge effort towards the negative they put little time and energy into trying to find solutions, back-up plans, and compromises. If only they could see that the “flaws” hold lots of wisdom, lessons and opportunities… opportunities to make lemonade out of the lemons and plain old boxes into pieces of art.

Thanks LumberJocks for being role-models of such a great way to live life!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

18 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35201 posts in 4908 days

#1 posted 12-18-2011 04:27 PM

Debbie: Some great incites into the world and lives of great woodworkers. It’s hard to be around someone who is always looking for “What’s Wrong!”

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4487 days

#2 posted 12-18-2011 05:05 PM

Hi Ms. Debbie,

As a woodworker, what do you do? Me personally, I yell at the guy that handed me a flawed board!

Makes sense, right?


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Don W's profile

Don W

19331 posts in 3075 days

#3 posted 12-18-2011 05:22 PM

there is a theory that holds true for almost any career (I said career, not job) that goes like this: If it was easy, anybody could do it, thus we’d be out of a job. I think it hold true for a hobby as well.

I tend to look for the flawed boards. Any woodworker can make something that starts out perfect. Its the flaws that add Character and uniqueness. Find a person without a flaw….I think not.

I’ve been woodworking for about 35 years now, I guess. I think I’ve learned as much in the 216 days I’ve been a member of LJs than any other 216 days in my life. I echo your sentiment, ””Thanks LumberJocks for being role-models of such a great way to live life!” and add, thanks to all for sharing!!

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4668 days

#4 posted 12-18-2011 05:51 PM

Lee, I guess I forgot that person on the rant/rave list… of course, I’d be that guy in our shop so that’s not good haha

Don – thumbs up for “tend to look for the flawed boards” AND the 216 days comment!!!!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4806 days

#5 posted 12-18-2011 06:06 PM

As Forest Gump would say.

”Buying a sheet of plywood was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4513 days

#6 posted 12-18-2011 06:31 PM

Wood is sort of like people. Without vices and drama they tend to be less interesting too. Otherwise they both take on all the beauty of a flawless composite. :)

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View canadianchips's profile


2627 posts in 3504 days

#7 posted 12-18-2011 06:31 PM

You forgot to add that you learn patience as well, no need to fly off the handle, sit down,relax and figure out a way to use your “flawed piece”, whether you use in in the project intended or use it in another project.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4668 days

#8 posted 12-18-2011 06:56 PM

yes, patience..
and self-control: “just because you want to, doesn’t mean you should” ... you may WANT to throw the wood across the room along with the planer and a few other tools but it doesn’t mean you SHOULD

(and good one, Dick—Oh Forrest G., you and your box of chocolates have taught us so much!!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Bluepine38's profile


3387 posts in 3592 days

#9 posted 12-18-2011 07:07 PM

Darn, and all this time I thought I was just having fun playing with wood and tools out in the shop to keep
myself out of trouble and off street corners. What did start out as something to keep myself busy in my
retirement years, has taught me a little more about life and wood than I started out with, and Lumberjocks
has kept me from being satisfied with remodeling the basement and putting a new deck out front, now I
have to try to glue little pieces of wood together correctly and straight to try to make a bowl out of them.
This site has a lot of wonderful people on it who like to share. I want to thank all of you for helping all of
us get a little better, I may never be an artisan or a craftsman, but my kindling is looking a lot better and I
having more fun.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View HamS's profile


1837 posts in 2896 days

#10 posted 12-18-2011 08:02 PM

I have heard two good sermons now today, not that this is preachy, but these are comments that make us think about how we conduct our life and our business. I have often struggled with making, or finding, a place for some material that is less than perfect. I a, very thankful that the people in my life are willing to accept me in my flawed state and find a way for me to fit into their lives.

I too, have learned much by my association with you lumber jocks. This is a great community.

-- Haming it up in the 'bash.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3543 days

#11 posted 12-18-2011 11:47 PM

If woodworking wasn’t challenging I wouldn’t be interested in it. Ergo – you’re right, Debbie.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Grumpy's profile


25623 posts in 4358 days

#12 posted 12-19-2011 02:47 AM

And thanks for your great contribution to LJ’s Deb. You are an inspiration to many of us. Great work & merry Christmas to you and family..

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3197 days

#13 posted 12-19-2011 04:31 AM

Don W, Great minds think alike. I too look for ‘flawed’ boards as they have ‘character’. I likewise have learned more during my LJ tenure than in other time that I can recall. Very perceptive of Ms Debbie to notice these traits woodworkers seem to have in common. Your fourth paragraph pretty much sums up everything I love about woodworking! Great post.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View DamnYankee's profile


3312 posts in 3069 days

#14 posted 12-19-2011 04:55 AM

Ms Debbie – thoughts such as these must be spreading as I and a few of my woodworking assoc buddies were just talking the other day about woodworkers and the conversation followed much the same line. We also added that woodworkers tend to be helpful to one another – supportive as well as contributing to skill and knowledge . I would further add that wood and people are similar in that the stresses of life are what make us “flawed” and thus unique. The good years and the hard years form people and wood into the character they are today.

Not only that but saws cut both wood and people equally well

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View Roger's profile


21011 posts in 3311 days

#15 posted 12-19-2011 05:15 AM

and my vote goes to paragraph 4 also

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

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