That'll Do, Pig.

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Blog entry by Eric posted 12-29-2008 04:32 PM 1846 reads 0 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Note: This post started out as a reply to this comment on my personal blog, but I felt it warranted its own blog entry.

I just received what I call my first “hate mail” over on Adventures in Woodworking. It’s actually not hateful, just insulting and mean. In short, Adam (not Cherubini) tore apart the workmanship on my chisel box (which even I said was shoddy), and said that the plastic packaging the chisels came in was better than what I did.

At first, I was angry, sure. And a bit defensive. But the more I thought it over, the more I realized that all we have is a simple difference of opinion. Adam apparently thinks that everything you make out of wood should glisten with craftsmanship. And I think that everything you make out of wood that is for use in the shop should work...and who cares what it looks like.

I don’t make shop furniture for people to see and appreciate (as Adam believes you should). I make shop furniture to make my woodworking easier. My chisels were rattling around in a plastic tub with hand planes, scrapers and saws. I needed them in a box that would keep them still and the blades protected. Check. I needed the box to be as small and lightweight as possible, since they go around the world (literally) every couple years or so. Check. I needed to build it quickly, since those of you who DO read my blog (you’re still welcome, Adam!) know that I spent six months making a jewelry box and six weeks making a simple step stool. Check.

I know that lots of guys out there like pretty shop furniture. Workbenches are works of art these days. But everyone (yes, even Adam!) draws the line somewhere. Do you inlay your push stick? Do a little decorative carving on your shooting board? Why not?

Lastly, I also must disagree with Adam that the plastic packaging is better than where my chisels are currently housed, for one main reason. I didn’t just get a chisel box out of that weekend’s work. I got additional experience working with wood and figuring out what to do…and yes, what not to do.

P.S. The title of this blog entry, for those who didn’t get it, is from the movie Babe about a sheep-herding pig.

-- Eric at

30 comments so far

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4055 posts in 4699 days

#1 posted 12-29-2008 04:43 PM

If I paid myself a quarter every time I say “That’ll do, pig” to myself, I would have a fair sum by weeks end.
Every project is a balance of end use and time and stock available. Sometimes you just have to park your OCD and shove a project forward and on to the next. Not ever piece of workshop furniture needs to look like the H. O. Studley tool chest.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View MrWoody's profile


338 posts in 4409 days

#2 posted 12-29-2008 04:44 PM

Eric, just put it down to differnet strokes for differnt folks. Also some people are happiest when they are complaining. So you made someone happy.

-- If we learn from our mistakes, I'm getting a fantastic education.

View lew's profile


12956 posts in 4390 days

#3 posted 12-29-2008 04:46 PM

You know, Eric, I think this is why I like Lumberjocks so much. Folks here are real woodworkers and they understand real woodworkers. They are not egotistical- at least in their posts- and will offer constructive criticism and suggestions instead of trying to make themselves feel important by minimizing someone elses work.

We have all posted a project, here, that may not have been up to our “usual” standard, simply to give someone else an idea of another way of doing something. That’s called sharing.

Anymore, in my life, I refuse to be associated with people that persist in negativity and self praise. I don’t need it.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View PurpLev's profile


8554 posts in 4283 days

#4 posted 12-29-2008 04:48 PM

you mean you DIDN’T inlay your push stick? dear god…. you ARE sloppy ;)

it IS (as everything in life is) all relative, and depends on personal perspective. you say po-tey-yo, I say po-tuh-to sort of thing.

sometimes it seems like everyone is too nice on lumberjocks, and it would be nice to get some real criticism, but with that in mind, there is a way to criticize in a humane way – constructive criticism is the way to go. but just like the original post – even that relies on our own personal point of view of what is constructive and what is mean.

Anyways Eric, glad to see you’re still active over there on the other side of the planet. Keep on chiseling.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View 's profile

593 posts in 4607 days

#5 posted 12-29-2008 05:48 PM

Eric, you should stop reading the crap put out by people who don’t know how to spell or punctuate properly. It’s just not worth the effort. The really bad ones like “your Adam” rarely say anything coherent anyway.

Here’s a few excellent ressources that would do much good to that impolite meathead: Grammar Girl , Manners Guy , and The MannersCast .

And yes, I also would like more real positive criticism and less excessive compliments here, but I rather have kind people praising things than stupids criticising arbitrarily.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4457 days

#6 posted 12-29-2008 05:53 PM

Eric, as I said in your original post it still looks pretty good to me. I agree with Adam to a degree in that it would be nice to put both form and functionality into all areas of our woodworking endeavors but I, personally, tend to lower my standards somewhat when I make something for the shop since it is “just a piece of shop furniture”. I think we all would love the look of hardwood cabinetry in our shops as opposed to simple plywood boxes but this is largely overkill, in my opinion, with the physical abuse and environmental conditions that shop furniture/accessories will face.

I think that Adam is coming from a school of thought whereby, in bygone times, a woodworker/carpenter relied on tool totes and other items necessary for plying their trade to serve as an advertisement of his/her craftsmanship. There you would see furniture quality tool boxes and totes constructed with dovetails, inlays and gorgeous woods with a high quality finish on them. But, simply put, most of us do not have the time or money to devote to such “elaborate” displays.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View dustygirl's profile


862 posts in 4363 days

#7 posted 12-29-2008 06:14 PM

Don’t worry about the people who like to run down your work just because it isn’t up to a certain standard.I am just learning about wood working and am making small items to start.I find each one I do gets just a little bit better.I don’t have all the fancy tools and machines to do a lot of things but what I have so far I am happy with.I try to read as many blogs and projects as I can to learn from all the pros here at LJ.When I see something I like then I tell that person.I know that my projects are of no interest to some wood workers but to ones just starting like me maybe I can encourage them to start small and learn from them.Where I live taking a course is no option.Schools are too far away.And the local schools don’t offer woodworking.So I am greatful to all the LJ’s who post how to do things.Thank you.

-- Dustygirl..Hastings,Ontario.. How much wood can 1 gal chuck if 1 gal can't cut wood?

View whit's profile


246 posts in 4612 days

#8 posted 12-29-2008 06:15 PM


You beat me to the punch by just a bit. That yo-yo should buy a dictionary . . . or perhaps a 2nd-grade reader. YIKES!!!!

-- Even if to be nothing more than a bad example, everything serves a purpose. cippotus

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 4308 days

#9 posted 12-29-2008 06:31 PM

Wow, people like that make me smile. I realize how much better my life must be since I’m not nearly that miserable.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4734 days

#10 posted 12-29-2008 07:55 PM

I back Jojo.

The topic of a hard critique vs sugar coated compliments has come up at LJ more than once.

I struggled with this some myself and the conclusion that I came to was this: Everybody knows what is wrong with their project and they really expose themselves for posting. I am going to give positive reinforcement for what has been done right so that individuals will continue to head that direction.

We all start climbing the ladder from the bottom – including myself. That means I have some not-so-great projects in my portfolio too. But every project was a great learning experience, just as you pointed out on this project for yourself. I will give a hard critique to those that want it, sometimes publicly but mostly privately. It is never based on personal taste but things like technical craftsmanship, balance, and proportion. It is never a bash session. I always keep in mind that I am not immune to making bad design choices or mistakes.

Over time, I have seen many of the LJ members make real progress in their skill level. I think it proves that keeping people around with a kind word and friendly support has helped them grow in the craft and I will continue to support others in this way.

Oh, by the way- I loved “Babe” and I got the reference as soon as I read it. I laughed to myself because I say it all the time.

“That’ll do pig, that’ll do.”

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Ampeater's profile


441 posts in 4382 days

#11 posted 12-29-2008 08:12 PM

I agree with JOJO.

Personally, most of the jigs that I make for the shop are not very pretty. Once in a while, I use the opportunity to learn a new technique while making something for the shop. For instance, I recently made a small oak step stool and I used all hand cut dovetails for the joints. The first few that I cut were not very nice but the last ones were pretty good. The step stool will never leave my shop and certainly will not be a present, but I learned something and, to me, that is what is important.

-- "A goal without a plan is a wish."

View Betsy's profile


3393 posts in 4531 days

#12 posted 12-29-2008 08:40 PM

Eric – don’t let Adam get to you. There are people who would find something wrong with MYstuff—so heaven knows they’d find something wrong with yours! Geez——:-)

Seriously – we all have different takes on things. I like to post a lot of stuff because I get a lot of feedback. Both good and bad. I think along the lines with the others. I try to do everything as well as I can but I don’t waste a lot of time pondering how I could have made the shop jig just a little bit pettier so it looks good covered in dust.

Keep at it Eric!

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View FlWoodRat's profile


732 posts in 4544 days

#13 posted 12-29-2008 11:22 PM

I just took a look at your chisel box. Looks good ‘enuff’ for me. After all, I could not hear the IRWINS complaining and it looks like you will be able to find and retrieve your chisels whenever you want. Was it supposed to look pretty, replete with fine joinery etc.?

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning....

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

727 posts in 4253 days

#14 posted 12-29-2008 11:49 PM

I looked at your chisel box…...the chisels fit…....nuf said, well done. At times I find myself making jigs as though they were a furniture commision. Why? Because at the time I had nothing better to do. Form follows function and your storage box seems to function well. Let Adam post his negative comments on this site and I guarantee he will get a warm reception! We are a bunch of good guys, and gals, who support and encourage each other. Life is too short to take the Adam’s seriously.

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 4431 days

#15 posted 12-30-2008 12:00 AM


I am truly sorry you had to deal with a jerk like “Adam” there. Yes, I agree that one should take pride in their work, even shop stuff, but I don’t see where you did otherwise. You and I both are beginner woodworkers, as everyone else here either is or was at some point. What “Adam” there seems to forget is that projects like that chisel box teaches you valuable skills that will improve your woodworking as a whole. You obviously recognized this with your “lessons learned” section of that post.

In a way, the strength of LumberJocks can be turned into a negative. The people here on LJ will compliment profusely. It can get folks to thinking that everyone is like this. Unfortunately, “Adam” is proof otherwise. However, these jerks truly are in the minority.

While I like the idea of having an ornately decorated workbench and tool cabinet, and I want my shop to really show what kind of craftsman I am (at this point, it’s really just hope to be ;)), that’s hardly grounds to say another approach is wrong. So long as it works, is safe, and you’re happy with it, people like “Adam” need to have a Coke and a smile and shut the ** up! ;)

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

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