I am new to the woodworking.com forums, but I can tell you all they have been a pleasure to follow for the past few weeks. A lot of good ideas and sounds like one heck of a lot of good/experienced people. I have been woodworking for about 15 years, but only got into the "client"/profit buisness end of it a couple of years ago. I have done fairly well, not rich but well, and I love woodworking!!, but I seem to be never totally satisfied with a project, and always second guessing myself. I guess I have a fear of a piece not being perfect, "did I sand That enough? I could of done it this way, Will that glue joint hold? ect. My wife is telling me maybe I,m in the wrong Buis.
I'm a very good ww and have many satisfied/return customers (oop's "clients") but I just can't get over the "fear" on delivery of a project. So, help me out. Is it me, or do we all have some of this fear? Am I in the wrong Buis?
I have the same problem. I look at the project and where I know it ain't perfect it just jumps right out at me. Sometimes I'm surprised as people ooh and ahh and I wonder can't they see it? And of course the answer is "no, they can't". They don't know and generally aren't as critical.
We tend to compare ourselves with perfection - which is unattainable. Better to compare to some piece of furniture that they see at rooms-to-go or walmart because that is what the customer (generally) is comparing you to.
I'll admit too that my eye is very critical when I'm out. I go to a store and I'll spot sloppy work and things that seem to go unnoticed. Is because my eye knows what to look for.
When I look under the hood of a car I see parts. Engine block, carb, plugs, etc. My oldest boy looks under the hood and he sees a big black squiggly hose-y thing. His vision is better than mine, but his eye isn't trained to notice the parts.
As cabinet makers we notice the pieces, the miters, the dados, the moldings. Clients (unless very discerning themselves) see a complete unit. Big woody thing.
In part to get away from self doubt I've developed routines. For example, how much sanding is enough? Well I sand and count the "reps" - 10 reps - each rep being out and back over the surface in question - is 'enough' for any given grit. So I sand 10 reps at #150, another 10 at #220, wet to raise the grain and 10 more at #220. It gives me a fixed cutoff. Maybe it's good after 8, but I always count 10.
We "the woodworker" know too much about how it should be done. We the maker know every little ding that we made or found in the piece during the construction. It is very hard not to see the little errors and think that they are flashing neon signs. For the most part they are not. The vast majority of people don't really know what good work is and if they know anything then they know that drawers with dovetails are better than not.
Hand crafted furniture is something that in some ways should not be perfect. We are making them with care and in some cases love for the wood and the tools. Some of us think that some of the tool marks should be still there to let people know it was not made in a factory by CNC machines.
I remember reading something somewhere about a man that was selling his work and people would come to his stall in a show and have one of three reactions.
First, they would look and ask how much and say they could get it cheeper at wallmart or some such place.
Second they would only look at the surface of the piece, the finish and not have an issue with the price because they wanted hand crafted quality but would not know really what that was.
The third would come in pull out a drawer and examine the construction and smile. In all cases this was a woodworker.
The question for you to ask yourself. Can I do good work and let go of the little marks that would tell someone that really knows quality that it is hand made and a nice piece. If you can let yourself be responsible for good work and not computer work then you are not in the wrong business. If you can't let go, then you sill might be in the right business but, you may not be happy all the time.
You know I sometimes HIGHLIGHT an 'imperfection'. I'll intentionally put a knot or a bark spot into a piece. Like a beauty mark on a woman, it enhances rather that detracts. It speaks to the origins of the piece as wood and not plastic, perfect from the production line.
Thanks to all. It is comforting to know it's not just me. As I said in the original post there is a lot of expertice in these posts.
Madmark, Lou and Glen, you guys add heaps of outstanding input. Ya'll wouldn't happen to Own stock in ww.com :-)?
Lou, did I not read somewhere that you were in the N. Ca. area?
I happen to be in the Sac area.
Thanks again to you all. Keep it up.
No, I just happened on this page and thought I would stay a while. It is a lot better than writing Marketing Requirement Spec's for the last computer farm over the web task I should be doing right now.
Yes, I live and work in San Jose, CA one of the most expensive places to live in the whole world. You get hit with the power rotation yet?
Lou, I think i'll be hanging around for awhile also.
Thankfully, I live and work on Travis AFB, so all we have been getting are the warnings and mights. I feel for ya'll. The prices up here are going up, trying to match San Jose.
I used to do my own photographic dark room work. (B&W) Among my photographer friends we had a saying that "If you had to explain your work, you didn't do as well as you could have." I think that the saying can be applied to wood working too.