Soooo Slooowww

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    Profile photo of Allen PadillaAllen Padilla
    Participant

    I am a novice woodworker. I enjoy getting into the shop and hand tools have been a good medium for relaxation and creativity. My only frustration is the rate at which I work. It takes me what seems like months to finish a simple project. Preparing stock and other simple tasks seem to take ages for me. Any recommendations on improving efficiency?

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 19 total)
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  • Profile photo of Saqib Mahmoodraze599
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    @raze599

    It is very time consuming unless you are very, very experienced.

    Stock preparation indeed does take up a lot of time. It is not a simple feat by any means to prepare stock correctly by hand.

    I’ve found that deciding on a reference face and edge should be the first thing you should do. Concentrate on getting these faces properly flat and square. The other two are less critical so you can spend less time on those. Also, know to what level your stock needs to be flat. Not all work needs to be 100% flat. Some pieces do need to be as flat as possible. Some pieces however do not for their intended application.

    Practice and practice, and do what raze599 says about reference edges and face, squaring these are crucial.

    -Canada

    Profile photo of Jim BraunJim Braun
    Participant

    @jimb

    I agree with all the above and also find that making a accurate drawing of what you intend to build helps speed things up. It eliminates the constant recalculation, mistakes, and helps to ensure that the project comes out as you intended. I speak from experience as a reformed shoot from the hip wood worker.

    Monmouth County, New Jersey

    Profile photo of Hugo NottiHugo Notti
    Participant

    @hugonotti

    It might help you to consider finished projects a nice side-effect of woodworking. It does take time to learn all the skills and especially preparing stock (at least in my case) is quite a difficult task.

    Look at Paul Sellers videos (and stray elsewhere if you like) to get ideas for simple projects. I recommend the kitchen cutting board (and learn to sharpen knives next), tool carrying tote, frame saw, rebate plane, chisel box (no dovetails, if that’s too hard yet) and the one very big but not impossible project: work-bench. I made a simplified version of the work-bench with a large board for the top, that I already had. Instead, my first large project (in measurements) was a shaving horse (see blog of Tim Manney for instructions).

    These days, I practise my planing skills on making staves for a bucket and a wooden beer mug (just a smaller bucket basically). They need to be tapered along the lenth and have tapered sides, and they need to fit together perfectly. And I have plenty of wood from old pallets to waste in the process.

    And I absolutely agree with Jim Braun, make drawings for anything you want to build. It helps the process, but more important, you have to think about every piece and every working step.

    I won’t forget a video about an old cooper who demonstrates how he makes a bucket. After he has made the first stave on his shaving horse, he announces, that he has to make many more and says something like “so I will sit here for a while longer and enjoy life”.

    Dieter

    Profile photo of plan00iplan00i
    Participant

    @plan00i

    Are you doing each piece one at a time? I’ve noticed it goes quicker if I work a project as a whole. Get all the wood I’ll need preped first. Make a cut list and do all my cuts at once. Do all the lay out. Cut all the mortises at once. Cut all the tenons etc. like a small assembly line. This way I spend less time bouncing around and I’m not sharpening every tool I have every day. If you notice in Paul’s videos he usually has all his stock rough cut and ready to go.

    Profile photo of Hugo NottiHugo Notti
    Participant

    @hugonotti

    plan00i, I had the same idea and it is great! But still, I (not the topic starter) get stuck in planing for quite a while. And for that reason, I plan on flattening and squaring some stock with a set thickness or perhaps 3/4″ for future use. Once the stock is square and straight, width and length can be changed quickly, so I will keep those measurements to what the wood suggests. The wanted side effect: I will get better and faster at planing.

    Dieter

    Profile photo of David BDavid B
    Participant

    @dbockel2

    I’m slow but it’s all part of the process. I think it took me 3 months to make my bench (I thought I’d get it done in a week!). A dovetail box probably takes me 2-3 days. A cane took a couple of days…But I do think I’m getting better/faster/more efficient with practice and since it’s a hobby I only have a limited amount of time to spend on it.

    Profile photo of Eddy FlynnEddy Flynn
    Participant

    @edfly

    @allenpadilla practice practice practice and enjoy the journey, i remember a story Paul told about the months he spent making ledged and braced gates during his apprenticeship (and now how he could make one blindfold) repetition is key to building skill and speed.

    Eddy .. Liverpool, Merseyside, UK
    ,

    Profile photo of Keith Turnerktu001
    Participant

    @ktu001

    As others have said,it takes lots of practice. When we watch Paul carrying out these tasks, he often talks about engaging your senses. Your eyes, ears and your touch/feel. All these have to be trained. If you are like me, it takes a long time. I imagine that many of the decisions that you or I may make over a period of time when preparing stock, Paul probably makes without really thinking. The “muscle memory” which he has developed over his lifetime. He was once a novice like you and I. Someone taught him. He then built upon what he was taught though many years of work and I’m sure we are all thankful that he now is kind enough to pass on his wisdom to all of us. I agree with Eddy above:practice practice practice and enjoy the journey. That’s certainly what I’m finding!

    Keith

    Profile photo of Hugo NottiHugo Notti
    Participant

    @hugonotti

    There is a method to speed up things a bit, if you really want to:

    When planning a project, include approximate times for the individual steps, estimates are fine. it should be something like “cutting mortise hole and tenon for joint #5 – 30 minutes”. Then try to establish a realistic deadline for the project, based on these times and the time you can spend in your workshop. Don’t forget drying times for glue and finish, and leave enough time for sharpening, cleaning up etc. While working, you might find some times completely off. Based on this, correct your time-table. The first deadlines might be quite inaccurate, but you will learn to make better predictions. If you are slower than you expectec, you have to postpone the deadline. If you are faster, you can either relax or tighten your schedule.

    And, before starting a project with such a plan (the plan finished already), commit yourself to this plan, be your own customer.

    Professionaly use such methods to improve their performance. As an amateur woodworker, it can give you a better idea what you are capable of and reduce frustration. It can make you a more efficient as well, but that isn’t important, as long as you enjoy your hobby.

    Dieter

    Profile photo of Dave CDave C
    Participant

    @suicas

    I’m finding the same, though the biggest slow part for me is all the unexpected tasks.

    My experience is limited to a short woodworking course, where we were provided with squared stock and sharp tools, so all the focus was on measuring/sawing/joinery, which went at a reasonable speed.

    As soon as I tried a project at home, I ended up finding out about all the other stuff that also needed to be taken care off.

    E.g. my process so far for one of Paul’s simpler projects has included:

    * Research place to source wood
    * Buy/transport wood
    * Notice that wood is slightly cupped
    * Research how to true cupped wood (watching videos etc.)
    * Start planing wood
    * Notice that plane isn’t very sharp
    * Research on how to sharpen plane property
    * Sharpen plane
    * Notice that small piece of wood keeps slipping during planing
    * Research how to hold down small pieces of wood
    * Buy additional clamp and scrap wood
    * Finally prepare stock ready for joinery…

    and so on 🙂 I’m guessing it will get easier/faster with more experience!

    Profile photo of David R.David R.
    Participant

    @davidr

    I find it helps to work on spending time in the shop. Be it only half an hour cleaning something up or sharpening chisels. For practice, I find you have to get into the habit of doing and even small steps gets us forward.

    Another thing I notice – and it’s related – that I spend way too much time watching youtube videos or reading articles or worse, spend time shopping for tools instead of doing something. I think it helps to set oneself boundaries on what to pursue, i.e. as much as it’s interesting, I won’t get into blacksmithing any time soon, so I can stop watching videos on that and researching tools etc.

    Regarding stock preparation, I would consider buying stock which is close to the required dimensions, even have a cabinet maker cut it to what you need. Sometimes it helps motivation to see some progress and a finished piece.

    One way, I am currently pursuing, is to start with freshly cut wood and prepare stock from green wood. I find it fascinating how you can make a chair from a log or rive wood to make chests. It’s a quite a bit different approach, but for some it may fit.

    So these are just a few thoughts.

    David

    from Germany

    Profile photo of Gary Docken5ivestring
    Participant

    @5ivestring

    Maybe we should start a slow race. I’m so slow it’s sad. except, I’m not in a race. Even though I’m slow, I am having the time of my life building things. And when they turn out bad, well I start again. And when they turn out good, you can’t wipe the smile off my face.

    Just have fun.

    When I rode motorcycles, they had the slow race. The slowest guy wins. Well, we’re not in a race, we’re here to learn skills, have fun and build something.

    Speed kills, enjoy slow.

    Profile photo of James LawfordJames Lawford
    Participant

    @jlawford

    [quote quote=143653]I’m finding the same, though the biggest slow part for me is all the unexpected tasks.

    My experience is limited to a short woodworking course, where we were provided with squared stock and sharp tools, so all the focus was on measuring/sawing/joinery, which went at a reasonable speed.

    As soon as I tried a project at home, I ended up finding out about all the other stuff that also needed to be taken care off.

    E.g. my process so far for one of Paul’s simpler projects has included:

    * Research place to source wood
    * Buy/transport wood
    * Notice that wood is slightly cupped
    * Research how to true cupped wood (watching videos etc.)
    * Start planing wood
    * Notice that plane isn’t very sharp
    * Research on how to sharpen plane property
    * Sharpen plane
    * Notice that small piece of wood keeps slipping during planing
    * Research how to hold down small pieces of wood
    * Buy additional clamp and scrap wood
    * Finally prepare stock ready for joinery…

    and so on ? I’m guessing it will get easier/faster with more experience!

    [/quote]

    Dave C- it does get quicker! Just the other day I noticed how my sensitivity to grain direction had grown, and with it ability to plane wood accurately and without making costly mistakes.

    Another key thing I’ve learnt is to keep building, but rather than making ten joints in a project with four duff ones, take time to practise, but in a meaningful way to the project. I.e. Don’t just make a bunch of mortise and tenons for the sake of it, make a project with mortise and tenons but use the practise joints to ensure you build skill that you then IMMEDIATELY put to use. The project turns out well and you end up cutting more joints and therefore learning more. Hopefully the mistakes stay in the test pieces! I’m doing this at the moment. I have an off cut from a piece of timber for the bed leg- I’m practising joints and layout on the off cut first, which has also answered some questions regarding mortise depths and sizing.

    Good luck, I’ve been doing this less than a year, and progress has been slow with restoring planes, learning to sharpen, making a sharpening plate holder, learning to camber irons etc… the list goes on and on, but in time you get to a point where the fundamentals are in place and progress quickens.

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 2 weeks ago by Profile photo of James LawfordJames Lawford. Reason: Quoted twice!
    Profile photo of Darren Wheatleytenjin
    Participant

    @tenjin

    Hi,

    I’m relatively new to woodworking, and I’m still in the very early part of my learning curve.

    Here’s what I have learned so far:

    1. Sharpen early and often – it’s taken me ages to build up the experience to know when a plane or chisel isn’t sharp. If you sharpen often you can sharpen in a really short amount of time; if you leave a tool to go properly dull it will make every sharpening session a pain in the…

    2. Aim to create, not to perfect – I spent a lot of time in the early stages trying to get everything 100% correct. If it didn’t look like something Paul would have made I kept throwing things away and starting again. Don’t. Finish lots of things. The early things will be awful (mine were / are!), but you will learn new skills with every project, and eventually you will raise the quality of your work. It’s far better for your motivation to complete projects that are dead rough, than keep re-doing a single project that you never finish.

    3. At the start of a project, think what tools you will need, and what tools you will need to keep those tools sharpened. Everything is a lot harder if you don’t have the right tools, or you can’t sharpen the ones you do have. On my most recent project I needed a spokeshave. I bought one, but couldn’t sharpen it by hand. So I built a sharpening jig as per Paul’s video. I messed that right up, but eventually managed to learn how to sharpen the spokeshave by hand..! 🙂

    4. Try to make your timber square before starting your project. I made a lumber rack recently, using recycled timber that I thought was “straight enough”. It kind of was, I built the rack, and it is sturdy and strong, and works well, but it is butt ugly. It would have been a lot nicer if I’d squared everything off properly before I started, but I find squaring stock difficult, so I didn’t. That was a mistake.

    These rough projects are teaching me skills. I have some lovely recycled mahogany that I plan to make into some nice boxes some day. Those boxes will be of the highest quality I can make, and will be the product of all the mistakes I’ve made along the way.

    HTH

    Darren.

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