Friday, May 11, 2012

Large excuse to practice

Matt keeping it square, and keeping it from crashing to the floor.
Recently that I've made an effort to develop my woodworking skills. I've got several ambitious projects in the works with little room for error. And that's why I'm about to sing the praises of simple, quick projects. I'll take any excuse to practice.

My friend Matt approached me about helping him build a cat-tree recently, and we knocked out the main structure in a couple of short work-days. The one being replaced had a structure of cardboard, plastic, and termit-barf. It was designed to last for 3 months. We decided to build something that would last at least 3 years, so we decided to use metal and termite food instead.  Since it's all going to be covered in rope and carpet though, we had a lot of leeway. Solid but rough was the goal for the project.

It doesn't look much like a tree.
But solid, precise and fast is the goal of the practice. This is a perfect change to get a lot of practice. For most of the cuts, we marked them square and cut to two lines with a hand-saw--quickly. We both improved our skill & confidence with a saw without having to resort to marking 100 lines on one practice board (a wonderful method of practice, no doubt, but not one that yields a useful object).

We also tried using paraffin on the screws at one point when we needed to be quiet near a sleeping baby. Not wanting to make electric-motor-sounds, or loud screw threads squeaking, we twisted the screws past a hand-held chunk of former candle, then pushed them home with my Yankee screwdriver. This was mostly fast and quiet, but occasionally neither.

Being a cat must be fun.
In addition to driving screws and sawing wood, this was also a perfectly good opportunity to practice all sorts of simpler skills: Wood selection, screw staggering, alignment/measuring, squaring/structure, efficient work sharing, etc.

Also, getting something as large as this done in a short time is very satisfying, no matter how simple.

I guess I'm coming around to the conclusion that rough projects are very relevant to fine woodworking, if approached with some of the same care. Also, try doing the quick and dirty version of a new skill, and see how bad it really is. I find that it demystifies processes and removes the temptation to procrastinate before eventually doing something the "right" way.

I expect you will see more simple projects from me in the near future as I get all the practice I can.

No comments:

Post a Comment