Deep End or Small Steps?

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Forum topic by shipwright posted 06-15-2011 06:57 PM 2638 views 0 times favorited 47 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8734 posts in 3958 days

06-15-2011 06:57 PM

When you are trying a new skill or technique or style or ???, do you jump into the deep end and try something complex and difficult right off the bat or do you prefer to take small steps and master easy projects first before moving to the more complex ones ?

This probably sounds like a no brainer….... of course you should start out slowly. But I’ll bet there are lots of us who jump right in. I think it’s an interesting question and I for one will be really interested in the replies.

For me, it’s an easy one. I’m challenge driven and I jump in at the deep end every time. My reasons are:

1) I think I will learn more quickly, even if some of the first pieces are crap.

2) I get no buzz at all from doing something that I know I will succeed at.

3) There are so many new things I want to try that I don’t have enough time left to spend a long time sneaking up on all of them.

Surely there are lots of us of each kind. Let’s hear your opinions.

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

47 replies so far

View Bertha's profile


13624 posts in 3854 days

#1 posted 06-15-2011 06:59 PM

I deep end, Paul. Everytime. And usually with disastrous consequences. It’s when I’m destroying a piece that my neurons are firing the hardest;)

As an example, several times I have had an entire CNC build-it-yourself kit in my shopping cart, and aborted. I can’t tell you how little I know about building CNCs. I figure what’s best way!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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5338 posts in 5042 days

#2 posted 06-15-2011 07:01 PM

Deep end. But I usually drown.
I don’t know any other way.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4114 days

#3 posted 06-15-2011 07:11 PM

I guess we’re similar. I don’t shy from complex, difficult projects. But, I do slow way down, so in the end, I have relatively few failures. It just takes me longer to figure out how to do it well. I tend to do a lot of studying before I begin cutting wood if I am not sure how to go about something. If things are too easy, I lose interest.

Patience is an invaluable asset, and I find that I now have more of it than I did thirty years ago. The urge to get things done quickly is a curse to the woodworker. I doubt that it ever results in a better product.

Great topic. Thanks for bringing it up.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 4144 days

#4 posted 06-15-2011 08:21 PM

I have been a deep ender most of my woodworking years. Now I’m no longer in a rush to finish projects and am beginning to take small steps with new things and technics.

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

View Brit's profile


8334 posts in 4003 days

#5 posted 06-15-2011 08:44 PM

I always want to challenge myself, but I’m not the kind of person who just jumps in at the deep end. I always read and study any new discipline for a while before I start it. So to use your swimming pool analogy, I’m always going to get in the deep end, but I get in slowly instead of jumping with a splash. I like to know exactly how deep it is, what the temperature of the water is and I’ll always check that my trunks aren’t on inside out first. :-)

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Billp's profile


804 posts in 5360 days

#6 posted 06-15-2011 08:49 PM

Deep End i really enjoy doing something I have never done before. I won’t quit till I figure it out. A lot more fun that way.

-- Billp

View shipwright's profile


8734 posts in 3958 days

#7 posted 06-15-2011 08:52 PM

I have to say I’m surprised at the answers. I thought more of us would have taken the cautious approach. Maybe it’s the way I phrased the question.
Still, I’m glad to see I’m in such fine company.

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

View dpop24's profile


115 posts in 3730 days

#8 posted 06-15-2011 08:54 PM

Unfortunately, deep end every time! Makes for some occasionally disastrous results but if you aren’t failing, you aren’t learning!

-- If it ain't broke, take it apart and find out why

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 4407 days

#9 posted 06-15-2011 09:12 PM

I didn’t know there was any other way besides jumping into the deep end! Sometimes, I’ll get to read something first or check out some pictures.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View DrDirt's profile


4615 posts in 4903 days

#10 posted 06-15-2011 10:00 PM

Deep end…a little water in the lungs only makes you stronger! :-)

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 4101 days

#11 posted 06-15-2011 10:17 PM

Sink or swim baby! Life is too short for small steps…..

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4276 days

#12 posted 06-15-2011 10:35 PM

usely I´m already in at the deep end before realising I have started on a major project I didn´t
new much about at all
but now I realy have slowed down with this woodworking thing try to learn as much as possiple
before the first big project …............well with my luck I gess I am in the mittle of twenty projects at the
same time before I realise I don´t know a Sh…. ..... .. ..............:-(
but with the addictive L J desease I hope I survive long enoff to finish them when the time comes … LOL

have a great evening fok´s

View Richard's profile


297 posts in 3698 days

#13 posted 06-15-2011 10:45 PM

“I can do that!” Yep… famous last words from a cronic ‘deep ender’.

-- 'I sand, therefore, I am'. Richard. PNW.

View Broglea's profile


694 posts in 4251 days

#14 posted 06-15-2011 10:53 PM

Living in the deep end makes one very skilled at fixing mistakes!

View peteg's profile


4438 posts in 3983 days

#15 posted 06-15-2011 11:16 PM

Paul, what an interesting discussion you have started.
When most are saying the “deep end” I think you (being singular) may not be aware at that point “how deep is deep”, is it some perceived limit or personal mind barrier?, I would tend to think it more as a predetermined self imposed “marker ” or stake in the ground to test the water so to speak because untill you have tested your skill / knowledge against a marker you have no measuring criteria.
Haveing done this, ie tested yourself, you can then determine whether to more forward or retrace your steps back a peg or two & then work forward at your own comfort pace.
Having said that I must admit that I have thrown more than my fair share of “potential masterpieces” LOL into the fire box.
Good topic,

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

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