And the wood wins, again…

My “shop” was still 90 degrees last night at 8pm.

It’s not ideal by any stretch of the imagination,20150620_132648 but for the time being I do all of my woodworking in the garage and the garage has a giant gaping door and so that means for the most part the inside is like the outside. And the outside is hot.

Now, I’m not blaming the heat but it does mean that I spend less time working than I would like, and maybe that means I was working less carefully than I normally would. So today as I was test fitting a set of dovetails – CRACk!

The tails weren’t especially ill fitting. The wood, as it turns out, had a weakness running down the grain.

Point is, after rough cutting it, planing it on four sides and shooting the ends you would think I would have had an inkling that this might happen. I didn’t. I was cutting some utility dovetails that no one was ever going to see. I wasn’t paying attention and the wood taught me something.

As soon as the wood split, like a zen temple bell calling me to mindfulness, I remembered reading an old post by Chris Schwarz over on the Lost Art Press blog in which he pontificated on the practice of perfection, saying that when woodworkers learn to take care in the little things, soon enough all of the work we do improves.

This was actually the last of a whole mess of dovetails I was cutting for a project I’m working on for my wife (which I’ll feature as a build-along in the next few days) so there’s not much to be done here but fix my mistake and get on with the rest of the build, but I will proceed with a bit more care.

You think the wood is the medium. Turns out it’s the teacher.


(Edit: found the LAP blog post and fixed the link)


2 Comments Add yours

  1. I hate when that happens. White oak is an excellent teacher.


    1. I don’t ever get tired of working with white oak and I do so every chance I get for that very reason. It forces me to pay attention to the wood and see what it might become rather than trying to treat it as some amorphous material.

      Seems like cherry and sapele (my other two favorites) give a little more latitude in some ways but require more attention to detail and stresses introduced to the wood.

      This Douglas Fir that I’m working now (above) has been giving me fits but I wanted to use it for this upcoming build-along because it’s A) Easy to get your hands on and B) Inexpensive.

      Liked by 1 person

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