Thursday, February 18, 2010


So, I've been in and out for the past couple of weeks. I decided to rearrange a little bit of my work area, to make it make more sense to me. I spun up a side project, which I'll talk a little more about at some point. I've come up with new chair patters, and I'm pissed off.

The work space I laid out is nice, but one of the things I've noticed as I go along is that it inevitably ends up looking trashed. Most of the stuff I don't need, things I'm not using, and so forth, end up littering the surrounding areas. And I'm able to ignore most of it because it's behind me. As are most of my tools... so I have to turn around when I'm at the bench to get my hands on anything.

Well, I solved some of that for now. First, there's a big table that I own that I've used as an auxiliary bench, but I've always used it as a crap-catcher of sorts. Now it's an auxiliary work table, underneath the window. A place to do assemblies, to leave wood stickered when I'm not playing with it, that wort of thing. What I'd been doing with it before is leaving it tucked under a shelf, and using it to hold things like drills and hardware organizers. Not a great use of space, and not a great habit to get into.  I did tuck a few things underneath it... like my antique tool chest, my Emmert vise, and a Festool Vacuum. The Emmert needs to be mounted to something soon, I'm tired of having and not using something that is so well suited to chair making.

Parallel to that, is my bench. It's now 90 degrees to the wall, which means the big storage cabinet is to my left, and I don't have to turn completely around to get to it. And parallel to that is the shaving horse.

Side project is a crate that someone was throwing away. For a packing crate, it's surprisingly well put together, and as I've been trying to work out a few ideas on movable furniture, I thought that a very nicely made dresser built into a packing crate is a sort of metaphor for the kind of furniture I've had a use for for several years now. So, I'm going to build a nice dresser into the packing crate.

Lastly, I'm pissed off. I mad a lumber trip a week and some ago, and didn't get enough of what I thought I needed. I made a second trip up last week, didn't make it before they closed, and on the way home, my truck got rear-ended by a small bus. So, I'm still chasing the insurance company to get that sorted out. Hopefully soon it'll all be behind me in more than a literal sense.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

10,000 hours? You gotta be kidding me...

So, I recently finished The Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. It's a great book for many reasons, but it does put forth his theory, which sounds unfortunately true, that it takes roughly 10,000 hours to become a real expert at anything... which generally entails about 8-10 years of regular work. If you're actually doing whatever it is for 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, it's probably closer to 5 years... but even still, that's a lot of time. Especially considering all the skills implied in woodworking that I want to become expert at.

Considering that my workdays right now consist of getting up at 6, eat, go to work by 7, work 8 hours, (and working on my new business and marketing plan during lunch break) ...then go to the shop for a few hours, then home, eat, and bed... so it's going to be a while before I'm an expert small businessman or woodworker or anything like that. AND I have to keep up my woodworking skills in the meantime.

I guess it could be a really imposing thing, but it's really helped me get a few priorities in order. The last few times I've been to the shop have been overshadowed by the fact that I'm still trying to put gas in the tank for the shop, get a better sense of direction with all of it, work full time, and more. So typically I show up in the evening for an hour, futz with a few things, lamenting that I need lumber and more time, and blah blah blah...But now that I think about it from the 10,000 hour perspective, I really don't have time for any of that. I gotta start working. Even if I'm just dusting off skills I already have, shop time is work time, and I need to make the most of everything while I'm in there.

So... I just about have the details worked out for the next chair prototype, and with any luck, this one will be the last before I can start trying to crank them out more regularly and sell them. And in the meantime, I have some dovetailing exercises to get back to, and then... and then...