I feel as though I have turned a corner in the pursuit of learning the craft of woodworking. In the past I have just wanted to get the project done so I can move on to the next. But it was different with this bench. Maybe it was that I was building from a set of plans which I rarely do and to me, requires much more attention. Maybe it was the scale of the project; there were a lot of little steps building up to a finished product that looks so simple.
Actually I’m not sure I can put a finger on exactly what it is that led me around the corner but I feel a little sorrow that the bench is done. For the first time I think I relished the process and not just the end product. However, the end product is awesome and I do look forward to the next project(s).
I think this bench gave me a really good look at my current skill level and helped me recognize areas of weakness. As much as I want to become proficient with hand tools I found myself navigating back to the machines–the land of familiar. So my strategy for improving next year is to focus on practicing.
Following the construction notes from Benchcrafted made me realize how much I can learn from others (duh!). I think my problem in the past has been thinking I can just read books and magazines and somehow absorb the knowledge without actually having done it. It is a disconnect between theory and practice. So for next year I’m going to pick a couple of good books on different categories of woodworking and do them step-by-step. And I’m going to take a few classes too.