Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned…

There are two mistakes picture here, one 'fixed' and the other waiting to be fixed. Can you spot them?
There are two mistakes picture here, one ‘fixed’ and the other waiting to be fixed. Comment below if you can you spot them!

I’ve been doing woodworking for almost as long as I can remember. Dad was a carpenter and cabinet maker by trade, so I learned a great deal from him, but most importantly I gained the passion for it from him. Even though I’ve been doing it on and off for many years I am far from being expertly skilled. I make plenty of mistakes!

C.S. Lewis once said that, “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” I wholeheartedly agree, and I think we should all share what we’ve learned from our mistakes so that others might benefit.

Mistakes made: I’m still learning how to be a woodworker and how to pursue this hobby in limited conditions. I don’t have the space for a permanent workshop, and I don’t have all of the fancy and expensive tools that others might have. Therefore I have to set up, and pack up, absolutely everything every time I want to do something. This often creates opportunity for mistakes to be made as a result of inadequate tooling or being pressed for time. I am therefore prone to taking occasional shortcuts which sometimes result in reduced quality, which has sometimes backfired on me, such as using wood with grain running in the wrong direction which broke under pressure. Always have the grain running in the right direction!

A classic wooden mallet that I have made (simply cannot buy them here in Thailand!). Alongside is my Dad's vintage combination plane. Both are a delight to use.
A classic wooden mallet that I have made (simply cannot buy them here in Thailand!). Alongside is my Dad’s vintage combination plane. Both are a delight to use.

Lessons learned: Cutting corners exposes my work to unnecessary risks. Quality usually requires time and effort, and quality tools. It is a real joy using tools that I have myself. Sometimes slapping something together works, sometimes it doesn’t. In all situations careful planning helps to ensure that a project is successful, whereas a lack of careful planning can result in things going wrong.

Making these mistakes has helped me to refine how I set up my workshop each time I use it, and has also helped me define what kinds of tools I need to either make or purchase. It’s been a great experience. It is a well-known ancient truth that invention is inspired by need, so I value those times when I’ve made mistakes because of the new things I’ve learned from them, and I’m happy to share with you the benefit of my experiences.

 

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