After I left the magazine for a new job, I did all of my woodworking in my small two-car garage, but it was a struggle. Power, lighting, and temperature control were limited. And because I shared space with our cars I was always moving machines around, often while in the middle of a project. On top of that, my tool and machine collection had long since eclipsed the space. For all these reasons, fixing up the garage wasn’t an option. My finished basement is a family room, so it was out, too. An addition to the home or a stand-alone building would have been too expensive. I had to find a better path to a shop.
Every single person in the class was a novice when they walked in. We all made mistakes at some point, yet none of us really ever felt bad about these hiccups. Inevitably, Bob turned these mistakes into problem-solving opportunities where we could explore new ideas. So what if one morning I skipped coffee and accidentally spent 10 minutes drilling random-ass, pointless domino mortises in the middle of my bench legs? 4 dominos, some sawdust and glue, a little bit of sawing and sanding-- I've got four new inlays on my legs and nobody's the wiser. Not only do I now know how to roll with the punches when building something, but I've got a bench that's uniquely mine AND I don't feel like an idiot. And that last part is a serious feat.
With the Grain: A Craftsman’s Guide to Understanding Wood by Christian Becksvoort. A little knowledge about trees goes a long way toward improving your woodworking. You don’t need a degree in dendrology to build a desk. But you do need intimate knowledge of how our raw material grows and – more importantly – how it responds to its environment after it has been cut and dried.