Are you ever totally satisfied?

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Forum topic by Robert posted 10-13-2020 01:40 PM 714 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4451 posts in 2493 days

10-13-2020 01:40 PM

For the hypercritical ones among us, can you relate that I am learning to accept the fact mistakes are inevitable—how can I fix this? vs. start over.

Are you one who after the project is over, self analyze rather than admire what you’ve accomplished? I have to say to myself “STOP IT!”, be thankful you’ve been able to accomplish something.

Most of the time people admire what I’ve built. While they’re ooing and aahing, I’ve learned to stop thinking “you don’t see that crack in the inlay where I stupidly hit it with a scraper?” or “you don’t see that gap in that mortise” or the wedge I had to shove into that dovetail when I sawed to the wrong side of the line because Freebird was playing?

I guess what I’m saying is ww’ing is enough of a challenge, I know if I keep at it for another 25 years, I’ll probably get something right the first time!

After 25 years of cabinet building, home remodelling, & furniture building, I think I’ve finally reached a point where I’m willing to accept what I’ve made for what it is, give myself a break, and keep trying new things.

Just finished this one, had a little glitch in the finishing, but where it’s going there won’t be any glancing light LOL.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

26 replies so far

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


2671 posts in 560 days

#1 posted 10-13-2020 01:52 PM

I am a total perfectionist. I am also good at solving “issues.” It takes many years to learn to roll with the punches if you are super critical. There always seems to be one little imperfection; at least. Occasionally though, you just knock it out of the park – thats the best time to have an afterward celebratory beer! or whatever is your fancy.

One thing I have learned over the years is, you DONT EVER point these out to a client. From then on, that will be the first thing they look at, even if they are overall satisfied.

Very fine table btw.

-- WWBBJ: It is better to be interesting and wrong, than boring and right.

View MPython's profile


338 posts in 825 days

#2 posted 10-13-2020 02:05 PM

My favorite part of a project is at the very end, when it’s finished, and I sit for a few minutes, admiring it and thinking, “I did that.” Yes, I know where all the flaws are and what I should have done differently along the way. But I reach a point during the build when I’ve done all that I can to mitigate the mistakes and I accept them as the best I can do and move on. I used to agonize over them and point them out to everyone, but I finally realized that nobody sees them but me, and pointing them out just mars the effect. After I live with a piece for a while, even I forget about the flaws and they cease to be the first thing I see when I look at the piece.

View Randy's profile


395 posts in 4460 days

#3 posted 10-13-2020 02:12 PM

I can relate. Those little flaws exist in everyone of my projects but I seem to be the only one who cares or even notices. I am my worst critic but I am trying to learn not to be so hard on myself. I recently started making shop related videos, which has made me even more of a critic.

-- RKWoods

View EarlS's profile


4312 posts in 3361 days

#4 posted 10-13-2020 02:15 PM

I can absolutely relate to your “obsession”. In general, everything I make will have little mistakes because most of the time I’m making something that I never made before. I like to hope that my mistakes are getting less noticeable as I get more proficient at woodworking.

The one area where I have the worst problem accepting what I made is seeing all of the design shortcomings after the piece is finished. I see that in everything I make, always. I guess that is what motivates me to get better at design.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View SMP's profile


3452 posts in 918 days

#5 posted 10-13-2020 02:51 PM

I can relate. But what is funny is as I have gained experience and skill, I appreciate more all the little “marks of the craftsman.” Like Mike Pekovich’s pieces where you can see his dovetail depth scribe marks etc. If i wanted something absolutely perfect I could go to Ikea, those pieces are all absolutely perfect, not one single mark of a craftsman.

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4544 posts in 3574 days

#6 posted 10-13-2020 05:41 PM

I am only satisfied when I know I can do no better.

-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View Aj2's profile


3683 posts in 2810 days

#7 posted 10-13-2020 07:10 PM

I try to do excellent work not perfection. Any mistakes I make are normal human defects. Unless they are fatal to the piece like crack in a cutting board that’s big enough to read a newspaper through.
I’ve had the pleasure to see some of my work from 20 years ago still being used with good honest wear. It’s far more beautiful then when it left me.

Isn’t there something in the Bible says let Excellence be your normal. Leave perfection to those who are trying to walk on water.

Good Luck Robert nice table is it cherry

-- Aj

View pottz's profile


14925 posts in 1997 days

#8 posted 10-13-2020 07:52 PM

ive reached the point like many here have stated ,i dont try to be perfect just damn good.what i think is horrible most people dont even know and say wow thats great.i just take my mistakes and hopefully learn from each one and get better and hopefully dont do it again!

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View bondogaposis's profile


5953 posts in 3364 days

#9 posted 10-13-2020 08:20 PM

No, I’m never satisfied. I think as you become more skilled your ability to see flaws also increases and your tolerance for mistakes no matter how minute increases as well. I don’t think I will be able ever achieve perfection.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View therealSteveN's profile


7250 posts in 1587 days

#10 posted 10-13-2020 11:57 PM

Satisfaction in your handcrafted work has pretty much the same meaning as stagnation. Always strive to be better, quicker, more efficient.

An easy way to accept not being perfect is to think in terms that only God is perfect, and the rest of us are simply trying the best we can.

-- Think safe, be safe

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


2671 posts in 560 days

#11 posted 10-14-2020 12:02 AM

Salvador Dali, the ultimate perfectionist, said: perfection is impossible, so dont bother trying.

I disagree. We can still try, even if we fail. Failure builds character; character builds stuff that isnt perfect.

-- WWBBJ: It is better to be interesting and wrong, than boring and right.

View metolius's profile


306 posts in 1743 days

#12 posted 10-14-2020 03:06 AM

If a project has quirks that aren’t right, I’ll refocus my attention on parts that went well.

-- derek / oregon

View AlaskaGuy's profile


6409 posts in 3322 days

#13 posted 10-14-2020 03:12 AM

No and some advice for your….........Never ever ask your wife that question.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Robert's profile


4451 posts in 2493 days

#14 posted 10-14-2020 10:20 AM

@bondo & SteveN,

I agree whenever we are totally satisfied we have probably plateaued. The pursuit of excellence, building on experience, and for me, hoping an can remember what went wrong the last time :-) it’s what keeps me going and looking forward to the next project.

But I think we have to strike a realistic attitude, or we’re pursuing something with no joy in it. While others admire our final product, we can find satisfaction in the process as well. We know what went into it, each step having the goal of excellent craftsmanship & execution, totally unknown by the admirer.

This may sound funny, but even though I’m never totally satisfied, I can be happy with they way it turned out.

The don’t have to know how sausage is made only that it tasted good…..

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View BurlyBob's profile


8508 posts in 3278 days

#15 posted 10-14-2020 05:55 PM

There have only been a few times I’m satisfied with my projects. I try to get them perfect, but rarely do. So I’ve trying to make myself accept getting as close to perfect as I can. The mistakes I see very few ever notice.

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