Friday, 21 May 2010

Suck it Up or _____ it Up

A very long time ago, i mentioned that Rousseau said something like 'Put a young man in a workshop, his hands will work to the benefit of his brain, and he will become a philosopher while thinking himself only a craftsman.' It's something i think about at least weekly. Now, i just want to warn anyone reading this that this is more of a personal post. Anyway, i learnt a valuable lesson through my woodworking that i really hope will translate into my other work habits; my progress on the doctorate. I have noticed that these habits are one in the same, as i am the same person when i do both. Simple enough. The doctorate, or at least writing the doctorate has been a real challenge. I keep wanting to recheck my notes, to downplay the risks i am taking in some of the ideas i set forth. The well-known expression in the woodworking world 'measure twice, cut once' was something i seemed (i am writing in past tense because i hope to leave this behind) to take to the extreme. And i noticed i had the same issue of avoidance or fear with my woodworking. I have wanted to build for myself a proper workbench at which i could really perfect my craft. One's work can only turn out so well when one must assume contorted positions on the floor or kitchen counter in order to stabilise workpieces. So i obviously bought the Schwarz's book on workbenches and resolved to make myself the 18th century French workbench, known by the name of its designer, Roubo (pictured).Of course, i went over and over and over the book, debated on the lumber to order, the dimensions, etc. It took a lot of energy. Finally i took the plunge and ordered the wood. I was very happy!Roubo2

Then the wood had to acclimate to my house and i flew to the States to visit my family. When i returned, i was struck with fear. Oh, crap. There's a giant pile of wood in my house. How am i going to dimension all the lumber for the top with only hand tools and no workbench?! What if i mess this up? It's going to be so much money and time wasted and i will be stuck with all this messed up lumber! So i let it sit for a while. And then a little more. Wow--the lumber is for sure acclimated to my house now! Last week, i decided to just go for it. The situation was beginning to look a bit ridiculous. I decided to glue up the top to the best of my limited abilities, and i would just deal with gaps, should they form. There's always epoxy. I took the plunge and glued up the top. To those of you reading who don't know about woodworking, glue-ups are the most stressful aspect of projects. But, i had forced myself the point of just not caring anymore. F-it. How bad can it turn out? I just want the wood off my floor! So i glued it up--in sections, over a few days, and i am pleased (and still surprised) to say that it turned out pretty ok. It's not perfect, but it wasn't as bad as i feared, and now i am well on my way to my goal, and i feel emboldened. I think the same attitude can be put towards academics. I am definitely at the point where i am saying F-it. How bad can it turn out? But i think there's a lesson here. Either suck it up, or you will f- it up. In other words, your best effort may fall short of perfection (God forbid!), but it will not be as bad as being stuck with loads of lumber on your floor or loads of notes and unfinished chapter drafts. As you can see, my bench top needs some work, but at least i have something to work on:


  1. Hello friend!
    I am following your progress on LJ. Great job and keep going with your bench. You will wonder to yourself why didnt you do it sooner. It is amazing how fast one is able to work on projects with a proper bench. A couple questions that I do have for you. What hand planes do you have? (are you going to be using hand planes to finish the top?) Also how do you plan to construct your base? It looks awesome and your doing a great job.

    AKA "NewPlane" (LJ name)

  2. Thanks, Michael!I look forward to putting my bench to use and improving my work. Handplanes:
    4)Newish Stanley low angle block plane
    5)Ebony Japanese style--somewhere between #4&#5
    6)Ebony Shoulder plane
    I think the #7 will come in really handy for the top. It's a brilliant (though heavy!) plane.
    The bench i decided to make knockdown--just the bottom stretchers. I think the legs are ok in pairs. Though they are a bit heavy...

  3. Nice job! The toughest part is done and it looks great. It will clean up easier than you think. Looking forward to seeing the completed bench.


  4. Thanks, TK! It's been forever!

  5. I know, work gets in the way of so many things. Nice chair on LJ. Good work


  6. well, glad to have you back. My work is getting in the way of finishing my bench. Which i guess is responsible. But annoying. Will blog the chair soon. Be well

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