my intro to wood working #3: old too soon, smart too late

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Blog entry by romansfivefive posted 03-02-2008 08:38 PM 993 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: tools, the crack cocaine of woodworkers Part 3 of my intro to wood working series Part 4: thats not scrap »

The other day I spent hours doing 5 minutes of work. I had decided that the firetruck I am working on, should have telescopic outirggers to help it balance when the ladders are fully extended. Of course I am too cheap to buy a pattern so I found some blue prints online ( and I have been working from those to try to make this work. I spent hours measuring and drawing and cutting, then recutting, then realizing I cut it too short, then starting over again, then cutting, then cutting the wrong side then… I am guessing some of you may have experienced the same type of thing. A friend came over shortly after and in about 5 minutes showed me how to draw a pattern that worked right the first time. I sat there in stubborn disbelief. Why hadn’t I asked him in the first place? This has been a life long struggle for me. I am not really a vain person in my day to day activities, but I hate asking for help. I am not sure how much of that is wanting to be selfreliant because I don’t want to be vulnerable to others or how much of that is that I love the feeling of having figured it out for myself. My dad had many sayings that he shared with me before I lost him a few years ago. Often, instead of correcting my mistakes, he would simply shake his head and say “old too soon, smart too late”. He knew that my personality leant itself towards wanting to figure it out for myself if the lesson was going to have any meaning. He was also suggesting that trial and error over time would teach me what he couldn’t. He was right. I am discovering that wood working, like life, is so much easier if I am humble enough to admit when I need help and seek the advice of a master to steer me towards the best path for reaching the results I was hoping for. I am so blessed to have someone who is a master carpenter that I can call on for help. There are so many great tips, and lessons I am learning that keep me from wasting time, wasting wood, keep me safe and giving me the tools and skills to be more creative. I am beginning to see that iinstead of being limited by the instruction, I am getting more freedom to use my gifts in different way when I take the master’s advice. I think about my dad’s words alot and I am seeing another master’s advice in them. I am still getting old too soon, but my time covered in saw dust is showing me that perhaps it isn’t too late to become a little smarter.

God Bless

-- The CNC machine can either produce the work of art you imagined, or very decorative firewood.

6 comments so far

View toyguy's profile


1761 posts in 5081 days

#1 posted 03-02-2008 09:43 PM

Rob I think we all are a little stubborn at times. We can all learn from your Dad’s wisdom. If it is any help to you, I am just like you, can’t or don’t want anyones help. I find myself getting older by the minute and not a lot smarter….

Here is a picture that might help a bit with your project. This is a toy Firetruck from the Toys and Joys collection:

Toy Firetruck from Toys and Joys

-- Brian, Ontario Canada,

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5405 days

#2 posted 03-02-2008 10:42 PM

so how DO you do the pattern thingy?? :)

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

View romansfivefive's profile


302 posts in 5017 days

#3 posted 03-02-2008 11:14 PM

I start by looking for a blue print or set of line drawings of the vehicle that includes a top, side, front, and rear view. I get most of these by Google images searching for 3d modeling, papercraft, original manufacturers and fan/owners/enthusiast club websites. I print these out on my printer then I use a photocopier to enlarge them until they are the size of the wheels that I am going to us. The wood I use is usually ¼ to ½ inch thick and of various widths and lengths. I laminate them together to create blanks large enough to draw the parts on, then I use carbon paper and transfer them shapes. I use a bandsaw, scroll saw, bench sander and dremel type of tool to shape the pieces.
This gives a general idea only, it doesn’t give you a cut list or anything like that, but it is a neat puzzle to figure out.

-- The CNC machine can either produce the work of art you imagined, or very decorative firewood.

View ND2ELK's profile


13494 posts in 5018 days

#4 posted 03-02-2008 11:23 PM

Hi Rob

There is always great pride and feeling of accomplishment in doing something yourself. But it never hurts to get free advice or someone else’s opinion. I am the first to admit that I don’t know everything and there might be a better way of do something.

Cute Story : I had to make a bid on a cash drawer for one of our customers. When working in prison you are not aloud to take money in behind the walls. For the heck of it I asked one of the inmates if he knew what size a paper bill was. He said “Hell I stole a lot of them but I never took time to measure them!” OK, I guess I will wait till tomarrow to do the bid.


-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5405 days

#5 posted 03-02-2008 11:24 PM

and it feels good when you are successful! :)

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

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 5066 days

#6 posted 03-02-2008 11:32 PM

Hi Rob,

To tell the truth I believe a lot of us have this “self-reliant” trait in commonality. We try to go it alone figuring that we will eventually muddle our way through conclusion of the problem. Most of the time we do succeed but when we don’t often we are too embarrassed at our perceived “failure” to ask for help. But what we tend to forget is that we were never designed to go it alone. We are hardwired with a dependency that often we try to ignore- usually with less than successful consequences.

But I agree with your father’s advice about trial and error. We learn far more from our mistakes than we do our successes but at the same time we can only “bang our heads against the wall only so many times” before we realize that there is a better way to solve the problem.

Thanks for the post.

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

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