Without venturing into the realms of Jedi mysticism, I am interested in others experiences of when/how you know something in your woodworking that is not obvious to the casual observer.
In a lot of Paul’ videos, he talks about “engaging all the senses”. I took some of this with a pinch of salt at first, thinking it was part of Paul’s patter and USP – because you aren’t wearing ear defenders you can hear stuff etc.
I am starting to realize that there are indeed a lot of ways of sensing that are not immediately apparent to the beginner and that these augment our working.
I can give some examples of this and hope that others will share too so we may learn from each other.
Some examples I have learned and experienced (credit to Paul Sellers mostly):
1. When adjusting a plane laterally, the sound of the shaving on each side gives a good indication of the thickness of the shaving. It’s actually better than relying just on sight judging of shaving thickness.
2. When planing, the plane lets you feel and hear which areas are cutting well and which will not produce a good surface with the current technique/setup.
3. When crosscutting, the pitch of the sawing sound tells you how near you are to separating the components.
4. When squaring up wood, my eyes are becoming more attuned to when something is and isn’t square.
5. This is the most crazy sounding one, but I am convinced there is something in it:
When checking for squareness with a square, I have started to be able to hear as well as see the squareness. When the stock is already registered, a square will make a different sound depending how much of the blade engages with the surface being tested.
I think, Paul Sellers means it in both ways, senses used to judge and accomplish the work in the best possible way, and also enjoy “sensing” your work.
On some occasions, it is good to know, what to look at or listen to. But generally, I think, it is important to keep all senses open and actually try to look at all the data you get. Then you can learn to filter out, what is important for what you are doing right now. Paul Sellers gives some hints, like listening to the pitch of the saw, “hearing” the thickness of the shaving etc. But there is so much more, and I think, our brain is ready to learn it, if we simply do engage our senses.
By the way, one very important sense seems to be neglected often: The common sense 😉
As grinding or honing reaches the actual cutting edge, there is a change in feel and sound that I listen for every time I sharpen. It’s a scratchy sound, more sibilant, almost like a hiss, and the feeling is more “catchy.”
There is also the sound of failure…loose hammer faces or heads, vibrations from machines, dull knives thunking over hard grain lines rather than cutting them, etc., that are good not to have tuned out.
The changing feel of a plane when it hits a knot or reversed grain
the smell of a shaved pine knot,
The touch of the edge joints when they are even
eyeballing straight and square then checking and finding it is
The sound of a chisel bottoming out in a mortise .
Just being aware of what the tool is doing as you try to form something with it.
I guess just being aware is best, which is more than paying attention.
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