Shop Talk

5 Practices to Make You a More Effective Woodworker..

  • Bosch DLA001Any craftsmen can begin to forget himself in the shop, can become careless or indifferent among familiar equipment, but the fact is, to be the best woodworker you can be, one must always be aware his surroundings and respect the shop as a both creative and dangerous space. Maintain positive and consistent habits in the woodshop ensures you’ll always be at the top of your game, that your time is spent more productively, and that you are more satisfied with your experience and results. There are just about five very simple steps to implement into your working practices that will fast transform you into your most efficient woodworker.

    1. Maintain Your Tools and Accessories: No one loves to clean, sharpen, or calibrate their tools and machines. Like cleaning the garage or the rain gutters, tool maintenance sometimes gets overlooked. In all reality, however, tool maintenance is one of the most important steps to having a successful wood-shop and positive work experience. Keep your bits and blades sharp and clean, and remember to check the setup and accuracy of your machines. Make sure your power tools are clean and running properly, and be sure to periodically check any power cords on your tools and throughout the shop. Power cords can be a significant safety hazard, so know where they are as you work and replace them should they incur any damage, breaks, or cuts. Poorly cared for tools will slow you down, and will generally yield unimpressive results. Ultimately, though it may be a headache to maintain your shop gear, it will save a hundred headaches in the future.

    2. Keep Your Tools and Workspace Organized: Designate a place for each of your tools and accessories throughout the shop. Ideally this space should be near the place the tool or machine is most likely to be used. Always return power tools to their cases and put them back in their appropriate places. This will aid in keeping your shop clean and clutter-free, and help to keep your tools out of harms way. Additionally, aprons aren’t just for the kitchen; using a good shop apron is like having an extra hand to hang on to the things you use (and lose) most often. Knowing where your pencil, ruler, square, knife, or measuring tape is can save you a lot of time. Having an organized shop is key to a more successful, peaceful, and effective working experience.

    3. Organize and Outline Your Projects: Before you start into your projects it’s important to have a detailed plan of action. Draft an outline with intricate details, measurements, and cut-lists. Think through your project up to the very last touch to ensure there are no surprises, no steps forgotten, and the fewest mistakes possible. Because, however, mistakes are inevitable, it’s wise to be prepared for them as well. One can still be a perfectionist and also acknowledging that human error is unavoidable. Craftsmen might mill stock for practice pieces, or have extra parts or materials on hand to help alleviate the frustration of error. Being entirely prepared for your project will make it that much more fluid and satisfying to complete.

    4. Compose Yourself and Take it Slow: Rushing your jobs or projects will always result in avoidable and annoying mistakes. Remain focused as you work and entirely concentrated on the task at hand. Working carefully and calmly will yield more desirable and more professional results; you may also finish your project faster for being so organized and composed as you work. Try to avoid working while stressed or frustrated, this can also lead to very avoidable errors or personal harm. If it becomes too difficult to concentrate on your project – walk away. Allow your thoughts to clear and come back to your project when you can focus. Remember, it’s one thing to work fast, and another to work rushed or frustrated; both will end with imperfect results, and a far less than perfect working experience.

    5. Take Notes: Keeping notes of your progress as you work can help you remember the crucial details you might otherwise forget after hanging up your apron for the night. Keep notes of any changes or modifications you make to your project, and perhaps even remind yourself where you left off. Documenting your thoughts and progress will help you complete all of your steps, and save you time when you return to a project.

    Integrating these simple practices into your shop habits will optimize your effectiveness and productivity on the job; it will additionally assure that you, your environment, and your equipment are well organized, well used, and continuing to perform at peak capacity. Remember to always be cautious and respectful in the shop, and to treat your equipment and power tools with the utmost care.