Woodworking and life are a lot alike.

I recently took an interest in woodworking, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts of how I’ve found that woodworking and life are similar.

Measure twice, cut once.

My Uncle Rick used to say and do this all the time when he, my dad and I were working on projects together. Before you make a decision, think about it. Before you make a big, huge cut remember you can always cut off a little bit more, but you can’t add it back once it’s cut. Think before you cut. Think before you speak. Think it through before you do something you might regret later. Years ago I learned the following: Before you make a decision, H.A.L.T. Then ask yourself, am I Hungry? Am I Angry? Am I Lonely? Am I Tired? If you are, then maybe it is best to wait until tomorrow to make the decision that you are about to make. And heaven forbid, definitely don’t make decisions when you’re hangry (hungry and angry). Not a good combination.

Do overs are allowed.

The great thing about learning how to work with wood is that I’m working on small projects and not working with expensive materials (probably will come with time though). The other day I was building a shelf so I cut the majority of the wood I needed, began to put it together, glued the edges and used my nail gun to attach the pieces. After I got the first piece attached to the top I thought, “Wait, where are my other two pieces that I need?” Guess what? I had nailed the wrong board. I contemplated just moving ahead, but it would have required that I make more cuts on all the boards. So, I busted it apart and started all over again. A few slight blemishes in the grand scheme of things, but nothing a little wood filler wouldn’t fix down the road. Plus, blemishes give it character. I started over and I’m glad I did.

Patience required.

If there is one thing you will be told and definitely learn as you start building, patience is required. As you may or may not know, I’m not necessarily known for being the most patient person. So, this new hobby of mine is teaching me to slow down, evaluate and take my time. It is not only relaxing, but it is also rewarding if I’m patient in the process.

It’s like baking a cake!

As Kyndal reminded me the other day, when you have a good set of plans to build from it is like baking a cake. You simply follow the instructions, one step at a time.

Men can read directions.*

See previous point. Men can read directions. Well, sort of. I’m thankful it has pictures to follow along with though, less reading involved that way. Man’s best friend is involved.
Want to try something new? Well, turn to man’s best friend – YouTube. I would not have ventured out like I have without the help of folks on YouTube. That leads me to my next point …

Give back!

If you’re passionate about something, give back. What would YouTube be without those that are passionate about their hobbies? What if they weren’t willing to share the things they’ve learned? Are all the videos great, no, but there is tons of great information out there. Just like life, you have to sort through the junk to get to the good stuff. And honestly, you might not remember everything but you at least pick up tips and tricks along the way. Plus, if you are signed in with your Google account you have your history that’s easily accessible and you can  go back and rewatch something if need be.

See. Hear. Do.

I was taught years ago by my friend, Bill Langford, that people learn in one of three ways. Some people have to hear it, some need to see it and others need to do it. When you pass along the things you’ve learned make sure you encompass all three of those (Hear. See. Do.). I can say I’ve seen this lived out as I’ve watched videos — I’m seeing it done, I’m hearing about the process and then I’m going out and replicating what I saw. The greatest thing is that I’m learning along the way.

Details matter.

I grew up building and demolishing things with my dad. I built walls and tore other ones down. I mainly cleaned up his messes, but I learned about details along the way. He taught me to look at corners and how things were put together because you can tell a lot about a man’s work if you pay attention to where things come together. Honestly, most people doesn’t notice the little things — they either don’t know what to look for or they’re not a detail person — but details matter in the long run. Side note: Give me a trash pile and a scrap piece of cardboard (anything with a straight edge and a flat surface) and I’ll have it cleaned up in no time. I also learned to be creative and most of all have fun along the way!

Bonds are made.

I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with folks since Thanksgiving about woodworking. I’ve gotten to hear some really cool stories from my dad and father-in-law, George, about neat things they worked on and adventures they’ve had throughout out the years not just in woodworking, but life. Find something you’re interested in and ask questions. Learn and grow. Connect with others along the way.

You’re still useful!
& It’s what you’re made of that matters.

The other day going and coming home from work I saw some furniture out by the curb waiting to be picked up in the neighborhood by the City of Sumter debris team, so I stopped to check it out. It looked solid. Plus as I’m learning I thought what a great piece to experiment on and best of all it was free. Then I opened the drawer and saw a sticker from Hine’s Furniture. I knew what looked rough on the outside was a quality product because of where it came from. Stop looking at the aesthetics, and instead look and wonder, “What’s below the surface?” or “What potential lies in this piece?” Plus, as they say, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” I can also say this piece is teaching me to be patient as well. Time, elbow grease and Youtube will tell what becomes of this work in progress.

It’s hard work!

Nothing in life comes easy, nothing. Projects and life take time. It’s a learning process. You can’t learn everything overnight. However, don’t let a little hard work scare you from attempting the great things. Also, don’t fall for the “quick and easy” schemes of others. Put in the hard work. Spend some time working things out because you might just be pleased with the end result.
Keep looking up!
Psalm 121:1-2​