A Mistake that I Keep Making–by Matt

Beth has a list of blog topics that she wants to cover during the month of March, and the topic for today (March 18th) is “Mistake or Lesson.” Since I have the time and Beth is not yet up and Youba-ing about, I figured I would take a little of her blogging burden off her shoulders for the time being.

The biggest mistake that I have made in my crafting process is impatience. It’s a mistake that I return to time and time (and time!) again, and it’s one that is constantly frustrating to me.

In woodworking, there are a lot of things that you need patience for. If I use a wood that hasn’t been sufficiently dried, there’s a chance that it can explode on me on the lathe or warp years after I finish it, ruining what was supposed to be a beautiful project. This means drying wood properly in the oven (usually a bare minimum of 12 hours), or even letting it sit for a year out in the shed. Right from the beginning, patience is necessary.

Full disclosure: I try to skip this step as much as possible by buying previously dried wood.

Pen mistake
That little red part sticking out should not be visible!


Next, I need to be patient while turning. If I push too hard with the chisel to take off more than just a few slivers of wood at a time, there’s a chance that the project will shatter. I have ruined more than a few really cool projects by rushing the shaping process. Patience is needed if I want to have anything left to show for my work.

And that doesn’t even take into account the whole setup process. I need to take the time to ensure that the tools are sharpened and that my work area is not too messy and that I have everything where it’s supposed to be. If I don’t have the patience to take care of these things and pay attention to detail, whatever I’m working on will be negatively impacted.

Then, there’s the finishing process. Applying stain to a table top, or polyacrylic to an ornament, or CA or oil to a pen is not an instantaneous thing. To get a table looking right, I usually need three layers of stain and three layers of poly at the bare minimum. Stain takes about 4 hours to dry between layers and poly takes a minimum of 2. This is not a process that can be rushed or little bubbles appear in the finish and the final project looks awful.

And then there’s the waiting as you hope someone will buy what you made.

I am not a patient person, but woodworking is trying to change that. At the least, I’ve realized that a good project–whatever it is–takes time to happen. You can’t cut some wood and drill some holes and slap some finish on it and expect anyone to buy it. It can be frustrating to be patient, but no one’s going to know how many hours something took me to make. They will hold the final product in their hand and hopefully it will be a blessing to them. They don’t see the patience, but they can certainly appreciate the fruit of it.

This extends far beyond woodworking, of course. It applies to just about anything that’s worth doing, including friendships, relationships, your career, and more. This is a crafting blog though, so I will let you contemplate those things on your own.

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