Rewarding vs. Right

My most enjoyable times in the shop have happened when I only had a vague idea how I was making something.

I’ve known that I want to end up with a small table, or a box, or some shop jig. I haven’t figured out what the measurements will be or what joinery I’ll use.


I’ve simply identified some boards, started working on one part of the finished project, and decided how to do the rest along the way.

At least once this resulted in a disaster of a piece.

Of course this is the wrong way to do anything serious. Arriving at plans, making drawings, marking out on the lumber where each cut will be made: this is the right way to make something, and it’s leaves you with a good feeling, a sense of real accomplishment.

But when I skip all the proper things I ought to do, just start working, and let the plan evolve as I go, the process itself gives its own sense of accomplishment.


I’m not suggesting I try to only work this way. For one, the methods and know-how I have at my disposal when doing this often come from the more serious projects I do. Also, arriving at a plan and producing a piece to the best of my ability is too rewarding in its own right.

That said, I want to be able to do more of this. For me, one day being able to not only make more things this way, but make pieces that are also beautiful, that might be my definition of good woodworking.


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8 Responses to Rewarding vs. Right

  1. Almost all the projects that I have made for myself simply evolve as I work even this TV cabinet – started as a scrappy drawing on an envelope – the most fun I had. Client work on the other hand typically has more detailed drawings – but not that much more detailed. Stuff evolves…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It becomes a matter of innate skill and experience. You have it. That is the same method my recent little workbench came about. Some wood, a vague idea of what I needed, and voila! I got lucky.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I couldn’t agree more. Both the design and build should be organic and flexible.

    Liked by 1 person

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