Publisher’s note: Good morning good woodworkers. Earlywood, published every Saturday, is a free excerpt from one of the thousands of pieces I’ve written since 1996. Sometimes it’s from a magazine article. Or a book. Or (in this case) a blog post from 2021. Each entry has been updated or annotated with some modern context or point of view. We hope you enjoy it.
I worked a summer for a rough carpenter. He was very talented and speedy. He would always remind me when I took too much care needlessly - "It ain't a piano!"
My son, you are doing the lord’s work.
I seem recall a certain sharpening video by a certain woodworker where they cut through newspaper in order to demonstrate how sharp their newly sharpened blade is... ;)
The idea to leave the marks from the scrub plane on unseen surfaces saved me hours on a slab table that I made for a coworker
I used to confuse perfectionism with mastery. I don't any more. In fact I'm not sure there is any relationship at all.
More woodworkers should read, digest, and absorb Hands Employed Aright. Rev. Fisher’s work should free us all. I aspire to his level of craftsmanship after retiring from overworked studio furniture making. I love leaving scrub plane tracks on bottoms and backs.
Do you have any more details on the carpenter's loogie? I'm just not sure mine are correct, so it would be great to have something to compare to. 😉
I appreciate your words of wisdom, Chris. Some woodwookers can be dictatorial jerks. Go ahead! Plane the underside of a drawer untill it's as smooth as glass, if that's what makes you smile, but don't demand of everyone else that they need to do the same in order to be fine woodworkers. Show surfaces are appropriately named, in my opinion.
One detail you failed to mention about the thicknesss of a shaving, is to limit the thickness to your ability to push. Smaller or older people can wear themselves out by making thick shavings. Should be able to work without exhausting yourself.
Your point about not finishing what you don’t have to reminds me of a visit to a friends house. In the front hall in front of a stair was a beautiful 6 foot tall grandfather clock a true antique from colonial era. it had a very fancy beautifully carved and polished set of curls at the top. A rich deep coloration from its cherry wood being exposed and waxed for a couple hundred years.
Admiring the piece I walked up a few steps on the stair behind and was stunned to see the back of the block of wood comprising the intricate carving was completely untouched bark still attached in places. It was a like a Michelangelo sculpture emerging from a block of rough marble. From the rawest of stock to the most beautiful work imaginable all in the same view.
The fight against my perfectionism is turning out to be a central plot theme as I’ve transitioned from hobbyist to side hustle to how I pay the mortgage. Read somewhere (maybe here 🤷🏻♂️) that it’s actually a disservice to our clients to spend extra hours agonizing over irrelevant, hidden details because those hours inevitably lead us to charge them more or delivery later for things they truly don’t care about.