Knowing Yourself!

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Forum topic by wisardd1 posted 06-02-2010 08:23 AM 1827 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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29 posts in 3322 days

06-02-2010 08:23 AM

Today, I made some really stupid mistakes. I mortised some holes on the wrong side of the legs of a couple of nightstands I have been working on. They are recoverable, but it set me to thinking. Let first first say I am just a beginner. I took up woodworking about 18 months ago. From knowing nothing I have built an Arts and Crafts queen side bed, a desk of the same genre, mulitple picture frames, quilt stands, clocks, etc. I jumped in with both feet, bought the tools necessary to have a workshop, invested time and money, and have become dedicated to the art of woodwork and furniture building (along with carving). The lesson that stands out to me most at this point in my endeavors is how important it is to know your frame of mind and where you are when you walk out into the shop and start working with power tools, hand tools, measuring, designing, adjusting, and fixing. What I have learned is that the more brain cells that are firing the better off you are. Too early, too late, too preoccupied, to anything, is a detriment. I have come to the conclusion that is it very important to know yourself and your different states of mind to be 1. efficient 2. accurate 3. to follow the rule “do it once and do it right” and most all 4. To be safe.
Just my thoughts and I wanted to share them to see what others might think about this experience.

-- Hopefully, these gifts shall last much longer than I

25 replies so far

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 3821 days

#1 posted 06-02-2010 08:40 AM


There are actually NO stupid mistakes my friend because they are the very best way of LEARNING and developing SKILL, It’s not the hard way, it’s the BEST way.

WE ALL make stupid mistakes, but some will never admit it.

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View WoodenSoldier's profile


161 posts in 3331 days

#2 posted 06-02-2010 09:05 AM

You’re forgetting a huge mindset, probably one that I have the most trouble with: Patience!

-- Create something everyday.

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3428 days

#3 posted 06-02-2010 10:30 AM

Sir, you learn patience from your NCOs.
All my projects are learning experiences. I love to create and whether I make a mistake or not I enjoy the experience. I try not to dwell on the small stuff.

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 3347 days

#4 posted 06-02-2010 11:17 AM

i have never yet finished any project without any kind of mistake, it’s something you know is going to happen.
it’s always going to happen that one time you don’t bother doublechecking a measure or mark.

last week i had to make 3 identical benches, when i was about to assemble the left and right sides i discovered that just like you i made a mortise too much on one of the legs. then i got frustrated and i repaired the wrong leg! so when i was about to assemble the third table, i discovered i had made 2 left sides for the same table!! with all the mortises and the panel on the wrong side.

View Ken90712's profile


17671 posts in 3575 days

#5 posted 06-02-2010 11:25 AM

We have all been there and it’s usually something so simple. I have learned to put smiley faces and letters on all my peices ( smiley faces = face of board ) as looking at project. Patience!, Ahhh something most of us struggle with.
Kep it up and as long as your mistakes don’t hurt you, its all good!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4160 days

#6 posted 06-02-2010 03:30 PM

My dad always told me that the difference between a good craftsman and a bad one is, A good craftsman can cover up his mistakes. I have been a cabinet/furniture designer and builder for over 40 years. I know about every little mistake or flaw in every thing I have ever built. It is just a part of woodworking that one comes to expect. One learns from their mistakes. The more woodworking you do, the better you get. The main thing is to enjoy the craft!

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 3867 days

#7 posted 06-02-2010 03:42 PM

I know what you mean. Having been involved in sports my whole life (bicycle racing, tournament tennis, running, hockey, karate, etc) I knew when I started a sports event I had to have total concentration on what I wanted to do, because I hated loosing. I take that same attitude in woodworking. Although I have the radio going in the shop, my concentration is totally on the work at hand. But llike sports, you win some and loose some and like others have said, dont worry about mistakes as long as you have learned something in the process.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3461 days

#8 posted 06-02-2010 03:46 PM

A computer programer once told me that if he were to go back and write the code for a any project he had done a second time he would do it different and he would do it better. I feel the same way about most of my WW projects. After they are done I know that if I were to build it again I would do it a little different (and hopefully better).

It’s not always the case that I made a mistake the first time. It’s just that we learn from the process.

FYI – On important projects with expensive wood I sometimes do a “trial run” with cheap wood first.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View ROY53's profile


77 posts in 3564 days

#9 posted 06-02-2010 04:27 PM

One of the most satisfying things for me is figuring out how to succesfully recover from a mistake. That is not to say that I’m trying to err, but it sure does happen. When it does, I try not to get too angry with myself, and just rationally solve the problem.

-- Roy L, Arizona

View CampD's profile


1774 posts in 3872 days

#10 posted 06-02-2010 04:31 PM

Wecome to the club!
there’s no perfect piece, just expertly covered-up.
learning how to cover-up a mistake is what makes it perfect.

-- Doug...

View juanabee's profile


109 posts in 3395 days

#11 posted 06-02-2010 04:37 PM

I just finished a project where several times I was sure I had committed an irreversible mistake. Turns out with a little creativity and umm….sneakiness, those “mistakes” are now either part of the modified design or invisible to all but the most discriminating eye.

I agree with Roy53 that part of the pleasure of woodworking is figuring out how to turn mistakes into “design features.”

-- "Life's nonsense pierces us with strange relation." Wallace Stevens

View mrg's profile


860 posts in 3386 days

#12 posted 06-02-2010 04:42 PM

Mindset plays a big roll in things we do. I find if I’m tired the brain is not firing on all cylinders and mistakes are made. When you are in the groove things just seem to flow, you have patience, the radio in the background is not a distraction and you are on top of your game.

I find if I start making mistakes meaning more than one little one, or just having a hard time grasping what I’m doing it means I should probably walk away for a bit.

-- mrg

View a1Jim's profile


117626 posts in 3963 days

#13 posted 06-02-2010 04:44 PM

The best safety devise you have is between your ears make sure it’s sharp like your other tools.

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 3408 days

#14 posted 06-02-2010 04:49 PM

I think I can say with reasonable certainty that 80% of all my woodworking mistakes are made near the end of a working day as I am trying to finish too much before the day comes to a close. Fortunately, as others have already mentioned, learning to hide/disguise mistakes is as much a part of woodworking as anything else. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that you’re not the first LJ who has plugged a misplaced mortise (I know I’ve plugged a few). I often use woodworking parables at work to teach leadership and management. However, perhaps the single most important lesson that each of us can take from the wood shop into the rest of our lives is the importance of patience and doing things right the first time. It took me close to half a century to really appreciate the words I heard my father say a thousand times growing up, “anything that’s worth doing, is worth doing right the first time.”

-- Greg, Severn MD

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3370 days

#15 posted 06-02-2010 04:55 PM

I like to say, I NEVER make mistakes, I just have GREAT learning lessons. What adds more character than something that catches the eye where an OOPS has occurred. Look at it this way you were enjoying a moment of contentment that requires replacement. Then again you could always say I was learning how to do inlay work and fill with another species of wood thats contrasting to the leg. I’ll bet before all is said an done you will have had many Great learning lessons. LOL

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

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