Go Do It
“I can’t saw straight to a line.”
‘No,’ I said.
“I was the worst in class in school.”
‘You couldn’t be. Everyone else says the same.’ I replied.
“I couldn’t get the saw to go straight, and the plane, you should have seen the wood after I’d done!”
‘Oh, really. It’s probably right that you couldn’t do anything well. It’s typical.’
“Yeah, I wanted to but I ended up hating woodworking classes. I’m just no good with my hands—ended up with a desk job for 40 years.”
‘Well,’ as I said, ‘no one is good with their hands so I’m not surprised you were no good. I was no good either.’
“Really, but you ended up making your living from it!”
‘The truth is that the saws were never sharp, never set correctly, never sharpened for a cross- or rip-cut, dull as blazes and on top of that the teacher couldn’t keep up with 15 boys of 13 years old, 15 planes, 30 saws, 60 chisels, 30 spokeshaves. Life was a dull reality for all boys (pun intended). Your experience was very typical for 95% of boys in woodworking class. Add to that not all the woodshop teachers wanted to be there and were waiting for 4pm and you have the basic recipe for failure and discouragement.
“Oh, you mean it might not have been just me or my fault then?”
‘Nah! Most likely a mix of not having parents to teach you to work with your hands and teachers who were overwhelmed, lacking in vision or worn down altogether, waiting for the illusion of retirement.’
“You mean I could have been enjoying woodworking all these years, and cut with a saw like you do?”
‘Yes. Sharp saw, right tooth pattern, well set plane, good chisels from Aldi (some of the best yet) and you would have been making things for your home, your kids wedding presents and your grandkids too!’
“Oh no! Is it too late?”
This is a conversation i had with a man 20 years ago in the USA. He left and bought tools, bought a small country place and started woodworking every day. He wasn’t good at it but he became good at it. He never went to machines because they made him nervous, but he did master hand tools and loved the result. Actually, I don’t really care whether someone’s good at it, I care about whether they feel fulfilled from it. Less than perfect woodworking is a million times better than no woodworking. Just don’t wait too long. Do it!