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Thread: Perfection

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Milwaukee
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    Perfection

    How many of you, the skilled readers of this forum, make flawless projects? There must be some.

    That said, when mistakes happen, when things don't go as planned, how do you feel about it and what do you do? When it happens to me I try to learn from it. What happened? Why'd it happen? What could I do different next time? How do I correct what happened? Each of those is actually a story in itself. Is a new technique needed? A new tool?

    I think deciding on a fix, or correction, is highly dependent on what went wrong. A mis-cut tenon? Part too short? Round an edge over while sanding? Carcase not square?

    Maybe something can be glued on. Maybe the design is altered. Maybe a new part is needed.

    How do you feel about it? Does learning from the mistake help?

    I'll say this about my own projects. After it's done, I like some quite a lot more than others depending on how many mistakes were made. Yet anyone that sees any of them think they all look great. I can't help but think some of them should be burned.

  2. #2
    I don't dislike some of my projects because of craftsmanship problems, but because of design problems. I design all my projects and some just don't come out looking very good.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  3. #3
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    When I made things for a living,my definition of perfection was when the client was happy. Now in my hobby work I have time to get closer to flawless work.

    Flawless is different than perfection for me. I can make something like a table with no visible flaws. However ,as the designer, I may think latter that a curve might look better if deeper. Even then I don't think of the table as imperfect.

    The closest way to get to perfection for me would be to build a design over and over and refine it each time.
    Wood shrinks and swells so that makes perfection elusive.

  4. #4
    I use all my (whatever I have) skills to give some flaws to my projects. I just cannot explain why the flaws are not intentional.
    Best wishes,
    Metod

  5. #5
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    Nov 2009
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    No such thing as a flawless project. Perfection will not be achieved. The definition of flawless should be the question here.

  6. #6
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    I've produced some exquisite and exotic kindling. One step of my latest build required three attempts. The amount of waste was minimal, it was the set back in time that was disappointing. The end result is far from perfect or flawless. However, I learned a lot from the build and developed my skill set.

    In the end, even though the build was far from perfect or flawless, I am satisfied with the results. I gave it my best effort and learned a lot in the process. I avoided the "That's good enough" thoughts that have crept into previous builds.

    Talent will produce a beautiful design, but skill is the guiding hand and inner voice that allow talent to shine. And I have yet to find any shortcuts. Sorry trees.
    Measure twice, cut three times, start over. Repeat as necessary.

  7. #7
    Modern machine made flat surfaces have changed perceptions about what a flaw is. Anything flat and shiny can be deemed perfect even if its hideous.An understanding of the value of pattern, texture, allusion, fitness for purpose,and what makes a good design is too rare. One thing that could help is calling Post Modern design what it really is....hodge podge . Look at these public buildings with interior walls made of squares of plywood made from one piece of wood.The day they are finished the architect will walk in and point to some flaw ,usually a fly.A perfect fly being blamed for a bad formulaic design. Look at an ancient mosaic floor,not two pieces of tesserae are the same but the floor is perfect. Well, a satisfying rant!

  8. #8
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    To be a top notch woodworker, you must be the best at hiding your mistakes. That being said, I use to get upset and sometimes down right pissed. Now I get a calm over myself, take a short break and remind myself that this is where I separate the good from the bad projects. The important thing is to be sure you come away with a lesson. I don't always, but make the same mistake 3 or 4 times and you (I) eventually stop making that mistake and are a little bit better than you were before. Don't let the mistakes get the best of you, let them make you better.
    What you listen to is your business....what you hear is ours.

  9. #9
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    Like Mike said, some of my projects are flawlessly executed, but the design can make me think, "next time I'll do this". For instance, the curio cabinet built to look like a scaled down federal period secretary is made out of the wrong wood. My daughter's dresser built to look of the same period, but use modern slides would have been better if I would have skipped the Blum, and used old techniques. Seriously, we're woodworkers, and most of us have said at some point "I could do that better". That mentality makes perfection elusive.

  10. #10
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    "Don't let the mistakes get the best of you, let them make you better."

    How true. To expand on this I have learned that making a mistake is quite natural. Learning how to conceal, hide or minimize their presence in lieu of eliminating them is where skill comes into play. When I have made the same mistake twice, or found yet another way to err on the same part, I leave the shop and find something else to take my mind off the project. Get some mental distance and recharge the grey matter. Weeds usually pay for my errors.
    Measure twice, cut three times, start over. Repeat as necessary.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Rozmiarek View Post
    Like Mike said, some of my projects are flawlessly executed, but the design can make me think, "next time I'll do this". For instance, the curio cabinet built to look like a scaled down federal period secretary is made out of the wrong wood. My daughter's dresser built to look of the same period, but use modern slides would have been better if I would have skipped the Blum, and used old techniques. Seriously, we're woodworkers, and most of us have said at some point "I could do that better". That mentality makes perfection elusive.
    "I could do that better" - that's a good part of it. Sometimes it's a design issue.

  12. #12
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    so cal
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    Two kinds of mistakes: a slip of the hand and a slip of the mind.
    I good book to read is the unknown craftsman

  13. #13
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    I once had a client who reprimanded me for seeking perfection. I worked in his house for more than 2 years - soooooo much woodworking - so he saw me in action more than most people. He told me that a characteristic of oriental/persian carpets is that they all had a mistake somewhere or somehow incorporated into the carpet. The humble thinking behind this was - "Only God is Perfect". Even if you are an agnostic or an atheist it's a good perspective. I often find myself laughing out loud on projects after striving to bring all my years of trade craft and fastidious woodworking skills to an aspect of my work I still fall on my face and get an open joint or miss the big picture and do something 1st that should have been 3rd . Only God is perfect I say, and commence to fixing my mistake. Very often I am not laughing. You do your very best through every phase of the project - sometime that is more than on other days - and each step of perfection strived for will make the next step towards perfection more possible. And yes, good woodworking also has a feature of good fixing. Just the way it is...
    Sam

    ~ Hard to take a guy who looks like this seriously but his 2 is worth all of that ~

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Piwaron View Post

    I'll say this about my own projects. After it's done, I like some quite a lot more than others depending on how many mistakes were made. Yet anyone that sees any of them think they all look great. I can't help but think some of them should be burned.
    We are free to burn our mistakes if we want. I think I'm better off keeping them to learn from, but that's just me.

    I have a true story on the topic. I attended a party at a newly rebuilt house owned by very rich man named Bob. Bob had the old house torn down to almost just the foundation and had a new incredibly detailed home built in it's place. He spared no expense. Custom carved entry doors with leaded glass graced the entry. Bob employed the best of local talent to build the kitchen and built-in furniture. He had a very elaborate hvac system. For a house of that size it looked very complicated,sorta like you'd see in a big commercial building.
    I was thinking Bob loves fine custom woodwork, but he's obsesses about heating and air conditioning. Bob probably spent well over a million dollars on the house.

    3 years after the party I asked a friend who worked for Bob how the house was. He said Bob had a dispute with his original hvac contractor about the elaborate systems performance. Bob called in another hvac expert to help. The hvac expert told Bob he was mislead actually conned by the original hvac contractor. The majority of the most expensive hvac equipment was not even needed. Bob had plenty of money to straighten out the hvac problems, but he chose not to take that route.

    What happened was Bob got mad and bulldozed the entire house down!

  15. #15
    Whether or not it is a mistake depends on whether or not there are any witnesses. If there are no witnesses, it may be joinery research or it may be an architectural enhancement

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