Slowing down

While metalworking has it’s interesting qualities (which draw me in like a moth to a flame), there’s another type of work that personally piques my interest.

Woodworking can be enjoyable and can improve patience, and craftsmanship in a way that other materials just can’t.

For instance, sanding a piece of metal for 6 hours produces heat could distort the material in a way that changes it forever; while doing the same with a wood project will probably not carry the same risk. My point? Mistakes can be forgiven much more quickly in the wood world.

In this fast paced world, sometimes all we need is a little “slow down” to recharge our batteries. For some, that’s practicing a peaceful craft.

While planning and plotting the next project may take time, creativity and patience, it is well worth the effort put forth once the project comes to life!

To put pencil to paper, and sketch out your ideas is where the magic happens. Measuring, cutting, fitting and gluing a Chevron coffee table together which you’re planning to give your parents for Christmas this year, or simply making the coasters that fit perfectly in your apartment for you and your friends to enjoy on evenings spend at home.

What’s my point?

Nature

Being close to nature has been proven to relieve anxiety and bring meaningful focus to your life. Especially in a world that’s so wrapped up in Technology and social media, we’re always connected to a circuit and disconnected from the ground.

Without a good ground, you’re bound to have a short.

Working with wood is an experience with nature (if you see it the way I do).

Appreciation

The material we have to choose from has been harvested from a tree that grew for maybe decades or even a century, and should be respected for the qualities contained. From large knots, to termite damage, or years of drought.

In the grain of the wood, you can see the years of growth in the tree it was taken from, and the rich colors (of say, cedar) will show the nutrition pulled from the minerals in the soil year after year.

Maybe this stuff goes unnoticed to some, and it’s not some religious ceremony practiced with wood workers. But the fact of the matter is, we’re making something beautiful, brilliant and useful out of a tree which had the same characteristics at one time.

Slowing down to appreciate the pioneers of the past who found uses for the abundant resources around them (trees), we’re paying homage to those who blazed the path to present day; imaging the determination to do all of the work by hand before developing the tools to do the same job more efficiently.

Therapeutic

As I said earlier in the post, woodworking allows a lot more time to be put into a single project to make it perfect. (Even whittling is an enjoyable experience for a little slow down on a Sunday afternoon).

Put down your cellphone, video games, or laptop and set out to make a project today! You’ll be amazed at the results if you go into it with an open mind, ready to enjoy the creativity within yourself. Perhaps you’ll gain a deeper connection with the world around you.

First project?

My recommendation? It’s cliche…

  • Birdhouse – Probably THE MOST popular project for inexperienced workers. (but for good reason). You can buy kits online that come with everything you need to assemble a birdhouse, just buy sandpaper, stain or paint separately to suit your creative needs.
  • Wind chimes – While potentially more difficult, these don’t take many tools. You’ll need a saw (a couple of hand saws will do), and probably a drill with a few different bit sizes. Grab some aluminum tubing from a store local to you (Lowes, Home Depot, Tractor Supply, ACE, etc). Cutting the tubes to length with a hack saw, drilling holes in the top to attach strings to the wooden upper base. An idea for bamboo chimes can be found here.

The point is to start out small, enjoy the project through all of the problems that may arise, and all of the aspects that go completely as planned.

It’s important to make mistakes at first, so that you learn through each project how to improve (or maybe you’re special and don’t make mistakes).

Personally, I really enjoy making things with my hands, and there is a great sense of pride when the people I respect will encourage my passion to create by acknowledging true craftsmanship (even at the amateur level).

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