The Woodworker

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and it’s true that need and want generally do drive the creative process, in woodwork as in everything else. So when it comes to choosing the next project to undertake, I think that the choices are very simple.

1 You make something you need or want, whether it’s a kitchen cupboard or a special shelf for a loved one.

2 You make something for which you have no real purpose or justification, but purely because you fancy it. Lots of good stuff gets made in both categories, and while it’s pleasing to get the bread-and-butter jobs out of the way (and reap the thanks that frequently accompany a successful and timely finish), it’s often the things that you make just to see if you can that provide the most pleasure.

‘But what about the unattainables?’ I hear you cry – the golden dreams that have been conceived, pondered, reworked and revisited a hundred times over the years?’ What indeed? We’ve all got them, those fantastic things we’re going to make one day, just as soon as we get x, y and z out of the way first. How did we all get so busy? Everyone I talk to is just about keeping up in this, our constant battle to thrive and survive. Maybe it’s time to reassess…

Probably the best thing to do here is to shelve some of the less exciting work – or better still, sub it out to a suitable friend or relative – and make a start on that special job you’ve been planning for a very long time. Maybe now is the time to get those precious boards you’ve been saving out of store and onto the saw. I’ve been tripping over a semi-circular mahogany table top in my various workshops for a long time now. I did the maths the other day, and was shocked to realize it’s been a hindrance to me for over a quarter of a century! I used up some other timber I’d had in store for ages recently, and I have to say that the delight in actually making good use of it far outweighed the dubious miser-like comfort of ‘having it in stock’.

Despite sharing my editorial duties with actual paid carpentry work (and a spot of teaching on the side), I still find time for those grandiose dreams of elaborate and follyesque creations. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to make a start on one or two of them soon. Consider their current abstract existence, the promise they hold, and the pleasure involved in refining them yet further, maybe this itself is their main reason for being. I guess we need goals and aspirations to help us along, and, if we actually get to realize one or two of them, it has to go down as a double-win, doesn’t it?

Happy - and safe - woodworking to us all