• Saturday, February 29th, 2020
woodworking thoughts

A good craftsperson never stops learning, so I have the habit of taking stock after completing a project to see what it has taught me. Often it is just a matter of reinforcing or reminding myself of things I already know – or “should know by now.” Here are some views from the caboose after a recent project.

1. It is so important to develop a solid design concept that you can trust throughout the tribulations and vicissitudes of building a project. Woodworking is not easy to do well, so you need the power of that concept to sustain your energy and optimism.

2. Make sure the design is good. You may need to redesign. Often, your early, unexamined assumptions are the most likely candidates to need refinement. Do not obsess, but do get it right.

3. 3M sandpaper products – regular sheets, flexible sheets, and random orbit discs – are flat out superior, and I see no point in using anything else. I can feel this stuff bite the wood like no other brand of abrasive that I have tried. Sandpaper is a tool.

4. Live edge wood furniture remains extremely popular, and I appreciate its appeal. But for now, I’m tired of it. I also have low regard for tables that consist of nothing more than a non-descript base under a slab.

5. Every effort in accurate, thoughtful stock preparation will likely be rewarded downstream in the building process.

6. Stock thickness disappears startlingly fast. Cupping, defects, and especially the dreaded twist, conspire to seemingly evaporate thickness. We are less likely to need a magical Board Stretcher than a Thickness Inflator.

7. Fiddly things drain energy and wear you down. These are things like altering hardware, fixing defects in wood, and finishing quirks. Plan to avoid them and find a better way.

8. The few minutes after making a mistake is the riskiest time for making a bigger mistake, maybe even the Big Mistake. Take a break, step back, and think. 

9. I think it is true: if I were to make this again, I could do it in less than half the time.

10. Krenov was right: “Worry less, concentrate more, and above all, relax.”

Best wishes to you with your projects, and I hope you never stop discovering.

Category: Ideas
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14 Responses

  1. 1
    Shannon Troester 

    #8 just about got me yesterday. So important to take step back before your turn a whole project into fire wood.

  2. 2

    You are correct about half the time. I have something I try and make at least nice a year. Since I know th design, it’s more about gauging my skill improvement. I keep track of time to build. The third one took me 33 hours. The 5th and 6th took 16 and 20 hours respectively.

  3. 3
    paul bouchard 

    Yes, #8 is a gem.

  4. 4

    Has the 3m ultra flexible sanding material been discontinued? I was looking around yesterday and couldn’t find a source for it that had a reasonable price.

  5. 5

    I see that the prices for the flexible sheets are now ridiculous. The 10-foot rolls are much more economical and seem to be still available.

  6. 6
    Pascal Teste 

    I get nauseous when I see Live edge stuff. Way, way to overrated. It totally lost its appeal for me when a few years ago I was at Home Depot and I saw in an aisle the sanded Live edge slabs and the steel legs in the bin next to them…

  7. 7

    Lee Valley told me that “their vendor” has stopped carrying the ultra flexible sanding sheets. It seems like 3M has changed their product line but not updated their product pdf files.

    I can also add that I was bit by #8 in a small way yesterday.

  8. 8

    Regarding rolls that I saw listed on a vendor site:

    “sorry 3M is showing this item as now discontinued with no inventory available for shipment.” So unless you found somebody who has a few rolls left (Sherwin Williams seems to), it’s not available.

  9. 9

    Home Depot listed 220 rolls available, and Sherwin-Williams listed some grits available.
    Great product. I don’t know why they would not make it widely available.

  10. 10

    OK, so it looks like #8 afflicts lots of us.

  11. 11

    The vendor I’ve been emailing says 3M lists it as discontinued, so if you like it and have a source, stock up while you still can. I would speculate that it failed in the marketplace because of its high price tag, but who knows. It seems like 3M eliminated some other products and relabeled the ones they kept—and haven’t updated their web site. Sherwin Williams told me the product was discontinued, so it’s whatever you can find in the store.

  12. 12

    Thanks for looking into it, Adrian. Too bad, it was a very helpful tool for shaped work. I have only a few sheets left.

  13. 13
    John Jenkins 

    Amen to #6.

  14. 14

    Oh yea.