341 Hendrik’s December Visit Part 1

December 24, 2008

It’s time once again for Hendrik’s visit this month and we’re answering questions you sent in regarding the topic of “Advice for beginning woodworkers”. We had some really great questions varying from which tools do I need to get started to electrical needs and heating.

This is only part 1 of a 2 part series, so don’t miss the second half on that’ll be released on Friday.

To order a copy of Hendrik’s new DVD or to learn more about his seminars visit his website at www.passionforwood.com.
Hendrik sent along this Christmas message to share with all of you:

I’d like to, first of all, thank everyone who has attended seminars here over the past year or taken any form of private instruction. I continue to take pleasure in sharing my techniques with others and especially watching some of my students go from complete beginner to a more confident woodworker. Woodworking skills are easily learned by just about anyone, but it does take a great deal of time and practice in order to refine those skills. For me, teaching is a way to refine my skills even more because being asked question after question such as “Why do you do it that way?” makes a person more aware of not just the skills but the reasons for them. Having to perform those skills in a pressure environment in front of a dozen people all wanting to see “how to do it right” also pushes me to learn more and become a little more efficient when possible.

One of the comments I remember recently happened during the second part of my “Bent Laminations” seminar series. When I showed everyone a completed demi-lune table with curved front aprons, someone asked “How long does it take you to build that project right from start to finish?”. When I said how many days it took, the person said something like “Wow! And that’s for you to complete it! For the rest of us it would take even longer”. While that may or may not be true, I hope you’ll all understand that fine work takes time and I don’t think you’ll ever get away from that. If you look at a project and it overwhelms you to even think about it, the best solution is to just start. As you slowly work your way through the cutting list and parts start getting checked off your list, you start to build up some confidence and excitement. You begin to see your vision coming to life and becoming real. Somehow, the project starts to look managable just by getting some small part of it done. Have you ever looked at an exploded view of a piece of furniture in a magazine and just felt like it is so complicated you don’t even want to start? And yet, even a relative beginner can do it if they acquire the skills one step at a time. Starting on that journey is half the battle.

Let’s say you don’t have large blocks of time for your woodworking hobby, but you can squeeze in a few hours here and there. I think it is all about discipline. If you can carve out just a half-day per week every weekend, that gives you 4 hours per week. Or maybe you can only spare 2 hours on a Saturday, but another hour two nights per week after dinner. In any event, however you do it, if you can devote four hours per week then you will have worked for 48 hours total over a 12 week period. Or 64 hours over a 16 week period. Somewhere between 48 and 64 hours, even a relative beginner can accomplish my demi-lune table once they’ve learned the basic techniques. If you could devote 4 hours per week to your woodworking and you have a beautiful piece of furniture, albeit a small one, sitting there in your living room in just 3 to 4 months, wouldn’t that be spectacular? And if you continue to devote your energy in that way then within a year you might have 3 nice pieces of furniture you’ve built with your own hands.

So maybe in your first year you build three really small pieces that aren’t overly complicated. Then in the second year you decide you would like to build a more complex design such as a bed, a large dining table or even a sideboard. If you get one of those projects done in a year (as a hobbyist), what is there to be ashamed of? In 5 years’ time you will have quite a number of hierloom pieces you can be proud of, but none of that will happen if you don’t decide today that you are going to become disciplined about your hobby. I’m not trying to take the enjoyment out of your craft and make you feel like you’re on a treadmill, but I do want you to see what wonderful things can happen if you commit to it. Lots of people say, “It’ll take me a whole year to get that project done!” I don’t see anything wrong with that! 5 spectacular pieces of furniture in 5 years is nothing to be ashamed of. The trick is to enjoy the process as much as the result. Work with the end in mind, but not just for the end. Smell the roses every once in awhile and revel in the wonderful material we have to work with.

Anyhow, that is my sermon for the day. Just a few thoughts for you to ponder as you start thinking about New Year’s resolutions.

I’d like to close by wishing you a Merry Christmas. Please take the time to appreciate what you have even if times are a little harder for you at the moment. Instead of thinking about what you don’t have, just remember that there are millions of people in the world who don’t even have the basic necessities of life. Even in difficult economic times, most of us have what we truly need and you only need look in a newspaper to see how much worse off most of the world’s population is.

I hope you can all find some time this holiday to curl up on the couch with a warm drink and some great company to ponder the meaning of life with. If you haven’t looked your spouse in the eye lately, it might be time. If you haven’t really focused on what your kids need from you, it might be time. And if you haven’t talked to some of your long time friends lately, it might be time to pick up the phone and set something up. Believe me when I say that “It’s time”.

Best wishes to all for a wonderful holiday season and all the best for 2009.

Cheers, Hendrik

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