The real time in a project isn't just in the project itself

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by David Craig posted 12-13-2012 07:42 PM 1454 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4231 days

12-13-2012 07:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: experience growing skills

There is a favorite joke I heard about Pablo Picasso -

A man recognizes Picasso in a diner. Happy to have finally met the artist and wanting a souveneir for the occasion, he asks him to draw a quick sketch for him. “Just something simple and quick. I will even pay you for it.” So Picasso draws a quick Cubist sketch of the man on a napkin and hands it to him. “How much do I owe you?” the man asks. “Five Thousand dollars” is Picasso’s reply. “Are you nuts!” the man yelled. “It only took you five minutes to make this sketch.” “Yes,” Picasso replied, “but it took me my whole life to learn how to draw this way.”

I think about this little story when I see the work of others on here. When I admire Martyn or David’s boxes, see some of Don’s plane restorations, or look at Jordan’s carvings. When they state the amount of tme it took for them to work a project, it sometimes has the illusion of being very brief. “If I had to do that, it would take me years…” we might say to ourselves. In truth, it did take them years as well. Years of developing their skills, honing their capabilities, and taking the time to understand their tools and materials.

This is one of those things that gets taken for granted by others, as well as ourselves. This hobby/craft/vocation is not about immediate gratification. When I was working my cutting boards, there were a few moments when I felt a sense of accomplishment, not necessarily in the project itself, but in the comfort I had with working in the shop, having a more clear idea of what I wanted to do, and some confidence in exercising the task.

Have any of you worked a project in which it hit you on how far you have gone? A certain enjoyment in being comfortable in your craft so that the project was not just an exercise in problem solving, but represented, in yourself, a sense of accomplishment that was a result of the tme you invested in developing these skills?

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

24 replies so far

View degoose's profile


7281 posts in 4477 days

#1 posted 12-13-2012 07:51 PM

Every day, Every day…. I think just how much I have grown, learnt, achieved… I still don’t believe I can do what I do… It amazes me…and sometimes I forget that others have not yet reached that level and I can’t understand what the big deal is…
Sorry for rambling…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4231 days

#2 posted 12-13-2012 07:56 PM

Not rambling at all Larry. I You are yet another on the list of those I am amazed by. Thank you for sharing your reflections.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View RussellAP's profile


3105 posts in 3409 days

#3 posted 12-13-2012 07:58 PM

There is a Zen to woodworking. I sometimes feel that I can tap into a vast amount of information, whether it’s just me, or something else I don’t know but I’ve found that I can do much more than I ever thought I could simply by not thinking about it and doing it. I’ve been working with my hands all my life and have learned to trust myself enough to realize that I can do most anything if I let it flow.
It’s when you start thinking too much that you get into trouble.
A Taoist proverb; Ambition is the very source of failure. To me this means that if I chose to go the thinking route, I’ll never get a project off the ground, but just starting it with no earthly idea of what I’m doing always takes me to the next step and sometimes opens doors that change everything.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3550 days

#4 posted 12-13-2012 09:31 PM

David, You really have a way with words – A craft that I will never master.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Roger's profile


21054 posts in 3927 days

#5 posted 12-14-2012 12:02 AM

I think everything I do surprises me… LOL I do have fun with what I do. I’m just as slow as h-e double toothpics. LOL

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 4092 days

#6 posted 12-14-2012 12:59 AM

A certain amount of self belief came after I made this

By the end of making it, I felt I’d accomplished something much more than just a table.

It does take years to get fully comfortable with every aspect of making whatever it is you make, but when you have that experience and everything becomes easier you enjoy it more – which is it’s own reward.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7927 posts in 4037 days

#7 posted 12-14-2012 01:00 AM


-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Don W's profile

Don W

20095 posts in 3690 days

#8 posted 12-14-2012 01:04 AM

In almost everything I do I hit days when I’m in awe of how far I’ve come. Then there are the rest of the days when I wonder how I get myself into these pickles.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4231 days

#9 posted 12-14-2012 09:43 AM

exelectrician – Thanks for the compliment. On the same token, I have yet to be able to diagnose a bad capacitor on a motor by writing a sonnet dedicated to it :)

I would agree that it is a constant up and down process. You reach a plateau and you enjoy those fields for awhile. Then the territory starts getting to be too comfortable and so you start climbing again.

And, yes, Renners, I much prefer the middle of the night, coffee at hand, music on the box, and taking my time then rushing for a deadline. When it stops being fun, I lose interest in a hurry.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30620 posts in 3461 days

#10 posted 12-14-2012 09:53 AM

David, you do have an excellent way with words. I always enjoy your writings.

As I approach my first annaversary here, I am astounded by the growth I have acheived. Yet even though I have come a long way, I have much further to go. All a grim reminder of how bad I was when I came :-)

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 3198 days

#11 posted 12-14-2012 12:40 PM

My journey is only beginning, but I had such a moment yesterday.

I was in my shop setting up the table saw for a cut. I had to change blades, so I reached into the drawer of the planer table I built to get the wrench I needed. Then I took off the dado blade, put on a thin kerf blade and put in the zero clearance plate. That’s when it struck me – just last year if you had told me that my TS needed a ZCT, I wouldn’t have had a clue. I also owned my TS for more than 2 years before I had the confidence to change the blade. I was tickled with how far I’ve come.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4231 days

#12 posted 12-14-2012 01:52 PM

Thanks for the kind words Monte. This is the first thing I ever made -

It was for my oldest who was just 8 at the time. He loves trains and he wanted a wooden one to put on a shelf. Darn thing nearly killed me :) I had a miter saw, a hand drill, a dremel, and a jigsaw. I ended up buying a HF drill press so I could make a straight hole for the wheels (after 6 attempts of failure with the hand drill). I nearly cried when it was finished. I had no concept of glue, stain, any of it. Just winged it. I made a big mistake by putting stain on before glue. Didn’t discover that until my brother-in-law decided to shake the crap out of it “to see how sturdy it was.” The top of the engineer compartment came off. If you can picture every comedy movie you ever saw where some skinny guy leaps on a large fellow with a bonzai charge, well, that was me :)

Great feeling, isn’t it Sandra. Before you know it, you will be throwing advice out there like the best of them. You won’t expect it, it will just happen.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17379 posts in 3741 days

#13 posted 12-14-2012 02:15 PM

David, interesting topic that I’m not sure how to address…

I’ve been playing with wood as long as I can remember, be it through pulling nails for days on end or using a crow bar (wrecking bar) to pull structures apart (my dad has done a lot of tear-downs over the years, I love that stuff) or framing / trimming / finishing rooms.

So when I finally got a dedicated shop space for the types of things I’m doing now, it seemed to be a natural progression to me. After some tool acquisitions, of course. :-) But my dad looks at what I build now, and is amazed. He wonders aloud how I’m able to do hand-cut dovetails, saw, chisel dados, etc. Have I sat back and wondered how I got here? Not until reading this post. But even now I really don’t think there’s anything particularly unique in my skillsets; anyone could do what I do. I’d not charge $5K for a dovetailed drawer, to put it another way. But I would want something for my time if there’d ever come a time that someone asked me to build or restore a specific piece. Probably never happen, but meh!, that’s okay too!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4231 days

#14 posted 12-14-2012 02:19 PM

Smitty, if you are ever feeling brave, give a bunch of new woodworkers a set of chisels and have them work some dadoes. Just don’t leave them alone for too long, they might bleed to death :)

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4159 days

#15 posted 12-14-2012 04:49 PM

Yes, I have, David. Whilst working on Windmill 3D

it occurred to me that the idea was not one I would have had the first idea how to do, even five years ago. I was planning it as I have come to these days around EZ Mitre. There were choices, shell box or lift off lid. This didn’t seem to bother me either. The one thing I agonised over, knowing I had not got it quite right in the original Windmill, was the wood choice.

I have found that as I have learnt new design and making techniques that the number and complexity of the ideas has increased. I still like to be challenged by things. When the challenge stops I think I will as well.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

showing 1 through 15 of 24 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics