One of the things that I like to do is woodworking. When I make something out of wood I have to make each piece. Every part is cut out and shaped individually. Every curve and turn is created from something that began its stay with me as square stock.
The woodworker almost never works with perfect material and has to consider how each flaw in the stock will add or detract from the final construction. He must consider the grain patterns of each piece before every cut. The direction and shape of grain in each part defines the way that your tools are applied and changes the result. Even for something tiny this is a constant process of evaluation and decision making. Understanding the flow of the wood and how your touch will affect it.
Often I sit for many minutes just observing the wood before I bring the tool to it. I run my hands over the wood and feel it’s warmth. I feel the grain patterns and the shape. The bumps and ridges that tell me what will happen when I apply a blade.
As I work the wood I think about the place it’s going to fit into the overall piece. I figure out which parts will show and which will be hidden. I think about the person that I’m making the piece for and how they will perceive it.
I think about how the tool will affect the wood and how the wood will respond to each cut.
I think about each joint and how it will fit together. I think about each connector and whether a screw will be visible in the final piece or whether it will be hidden. I think about how it will interact with the piece and calculate loads and stresses that will affect it.
As I finish whatever I’m working on I consider how to sand and smooth each part of it. I think about which tool marks need to be removed and which adds aesthetics to the piece that I want to keep. Especially when working with traditional tools.
I think about whether a part will be painted or stained and how everything that I do will affect that.
The piece should reflect that love.
It’s not an easy process but it’s a worthy one. So, when people ask me, “Hey, can you build a box…” the answer is almost always, “no.”