Is any project really "perfect"?

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Forum topic by Cory posted 12-17-2010 05:55 PM 2546 views 1 time favorited 58 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Cory's profile


760 posts in 3841 days

12-17-2010 05:55 PM

After completing a few projects lately and complaining about their imperfections, my wife said “you do know that you’re the only who sees this stuff, right? Everyone else can’t believe you actually made it!” I’m not sure if that was a compliment or an insult, but her heart was in the right place and she is right: We are our own worst critics.
I guess those imperfections are what makes a handmade item different than a CNC’d or factory made item. I just wish that my creations were a little less imperfect :-) Even after critiquing my “best” work, I find things that I should have done differently or could have done better.

That got me thinking: Is any project ever really perfect?

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

58 replies so far

View lew's profile


12810 posts in 4177 days

#1 posted 12-17-2010 06:00 PM

Even after critiquing my “best” work, I find things that I should have done differently or could have done better-

You are growing as a woodworker!

We all feel that way.

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

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3462 days

#2 posted 12-17-2010 06:03 PM

Amen Brother !!!

Due to the complexities of Mother Nature, It is impossible to be perfect !!!

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View souichiro's profile


369 posts in 3767 days

#3 posted 12-17-2010 06:04 PM

you know I have to agree with you Cory, we are our own worst critics. And I’m inclined to say that absolutely none of my projects would I ever call perfect…... but I have a very select few items that I have made, and not completely loved when in the garage. But then my kids have gotten ahold of them and played with them as if there were nothing better in the world. And weeks, or months later they can still sit on the floor and play with them for hours. And in my heart, I really do think they are perfect. The projects, and the kids :) Actually the projects because of the kids… maybe it’s just because of my bias :)

Anyway, maybe it’s just what others can get out of it that can make it all worth while. Trust your wife :)

-- Dale, Oregon

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4182 days

#4 posted 12-17-2010 06:20 PM

Perfect projects are extremely elusive – for me anyway. I’m presently completing a sewing table for my daughter and I can think of a half dozen things I would have done differently, or how I could have improved on the design.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View albachippie's profile


773 posts in 3456 days

#5 posted 12-17-2010 06:29 PM

If it were perfect, it wouldn’t be wood!!

I’ve been woodworking for nearly twenty years, and am yet to find a way to reach any kind of perfection. My wife has a similar attitude to your own Cory, with very similar words! We are our own worst critics, but that’s because we know where the mistakes are, and sorted. We tend to see the mistakes in all their disappointing glory, even though we have successfully overcome them.

Great topic Cory, I will watch with interest!

-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3405 days

#6 posted 12-17-2010 06:34 PM

The only projects that I find perfect are the ones others have made that are more talented than myself. Yet they are just as critical, as myself and others when it comes to our own work. When I look back at the enjoyment and pleasure I have in the shop making them. Its then do I realize the perfection of my work. I also feel less critical of my work when I see the pleasure and enjoyment that others get from the projects I have made. So welcome to the world of the woodworkers heart. You can’t get that kind of satisfaction at Wal-Mart. LOL

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

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3288 days

#7 posted 12-17-2010 06:41 PM

I don’t think that there are any projects that are perfect – as a matter of fact I know there are not. Human beings do not do anything perfectly and never will, nor is wood perfect. However, I also know that some human beings are capable of making some beautiful things that I sure do like to look at.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View shipwright's profile


8320 posts in 3219 days

#8 posted 12-17-2010 07:22 PM

I agree with the others that there is no perfection. You (we) are being too hard on yourself (ourselves). I find that only after a project has been out of my shop and out of my constant concentration for a month, sometimes more, can I see it as others do and not just as an unending series of minor flaws. This goes for my best projects as much as it does for my “average” stuff.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View ellen35's profile


2742 posts in 3854 days

#9 posted 12-17-2010 07:35 PM

All my projects are perfect – ROTFL !!!!!!
I know every imperfection in my work… and it makes me crazy!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Millo's profile


543 posts in 3471 days

#10 posted 12-17-2010 07:48 PM

what is perfection?...

“PErfect” is whatever reaches its goals in terms of form and function, I think. The other “perfect” you might be thinking about doesn’t exist in anything, any field.

However, if you don’t strive for perfection, in anything in life, your product might be rather crappy. I think we should all go for the ideal, calmly knowing that it might be unattainable. When you see the “imperfections” on your work w/o getting depressed about them I think is a sign of maturity in your discipline and good work ethics.

To me, wood is perfect, and nature is perfect. We just need to learn how to use it and/or live w/ it. It’s silly to have “molded-plastic-minded” expectations of what “perfect” should be.

Most molded plastic is far from perfect ;-)

I remember going to a winery hearing the tour guide saying how they “cleaned” certain residues that people considered “imperfections” in a specific white wine, but this market did NOT realize that the best specimens of that particular wine USUALLY HAD THAT RESIDUE, and it made it richer. That famous blond chick from Baywatch, the one that married that glam rocker from Motley Crue, looked DISGUSTING to me in her “perfection” attained in the operating room. So, what is perfect?...

What is hip? :-p

View Millo's profile


543 posts in 3471 days

#11 posted 12-17-2010 07:51 PM

oh, I’ve heard many times that quote that a “great craftsman is the one that knows how to hide/overcome mistakes”... w/ my little experience, this makes PERFECT sense to me.

I expect to make MANY MORE mistakes in my little (and so far not very fruitful) woodworking adventures…

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 3902 days

#12 posted 12-17-2010 07:52 PM

I agree with everyone…I think there is seldom, if ever, a project that is perfect in your own personal mind. I sometimes keep studying something after completion and keep finding things I might have done differently or better, even though friends and relatives say I am obsessed with perfection that the projects look perfect to them. I will sometimes spend days after I complete something just tweaking and changing things that I can just to try to get to that perfect state. I think the longer you do woodworking the more you expect from yourself and the hunt for perfection becomes even more obsessive and illusive :-)

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Builder_Bob's profile


161 posts in 3481 days

#13 posted 12-17-2010 08:06 PM

The role of the amateur woodworker is to make custom furniture that has character, meaning, and value to the people who build and live with it. Stuff you won’t find on the showroom floor.

Don’t chase after the factory, it’s a losing proposition.

What would rather have in your wallet, the perfect pictures that came with it, or pictures of the people you love?

-- "The unexpected, when it happens, generally happens when you least expect it."

View JuniorJoiner's profile


493 posts in 3861 days

#14 posted 12-17-2010 08:28 PM

it’s called the craftsmans curse, and we all have it. one thing to remember is that as large as that flaw seems now, in a week it will be less, in a month less, and if someone asks, it never existed.

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View Mogebier's profile


170 posts in 3454 days

#15 posted 12-17-2010 08:42 PM

I’m never completely happy with anything I make. I can see all the mistakes, but if nobody else can, I’m not going to tell them where they are :)

-- You can get more with a kind word and a 2 by 4, than you can with just a kind word.

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