Everything takes me a LONG time


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I feel like everything I do in woodworking takes me a long time to do. I have to think about layout, measurements, orientation of pieces, etc for a long time before I feel ready to make a cut. It just seems like I work slowly. It can be frustrating. Being a beginner, I expect that speed will come with experience? It seems like Marc can just fly through measurements and layout. Hope to eventually get there.

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I agree, what's the rush? If you want to see slow, look for Matt Meiser's post on how long it took him to finish his project. (Sorry Matt!)

I feel the same way - it takes me forever to make sure that things are oriented correctly, and measured correctly....and even then I've made many contributions to my scrap pile because of mistakes. This is all part of the learning, and gaining experience. It also doesn't help that I squeeze in little bits of time between work and home/family life - the "context switching" really slows things down. There is also the "job" aspect to it - if you're doing it for a job, you almost have to get better and faster at it. I have a friend of mine that is meticulous in his work, but he'd starve if it was his full time job simply because he's amazingly slow.

As for Marc - I would not be surprised if it also took him a long time to gain confidence and to be able to move more quickly. Knowing what little I do about his background, I could see him taking a deliberate, thoughtful, almost scientific approach to his work - an approach which lends itself to repeatability (for when things go right), scrutiny (when things go wrong) and improvement to each step he takes (leading to speed and efficiency). Plus - a lot of what you see has gone through the magic of editing.....I'll let Mr. WW himself speak to how much footage ends up on the editing room floor..... :)

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It seems like Marc can just fly through measurements and layout.

Ah, the magic of editing.

Don't worry, Marc (and every other woodworking podcaster out there) uses saws that cut one tooth at a time, just like the rest of us. Seriously, if it takes longer to set up a cut than to make a cut, that's normal and a sign that you're getting into good quality work.

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Relax... faster will come...

Windsor chair maker, instructor, and author Mike Dunbar once wrote about rushing vs. working quickly.

As you gain experience, little gains around everything from how and where your tools are stored, to your personal order of operations, will add up to make your work go faster.

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Nick, I find the best thing is to think about the tasks for the time you have in the shop. Take the time to think it through, then stay on task once you start. If you run into a glitch. Stop. Rethink. Start again.

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"There's a hole in the bucket", "Then fix it", "With what?" "With straw"

"The straw is too long", "Then cut it", "With what?¨ "With the knife"

"The knife is too dull", "Then sharpen it", "With what?" "The stone"

"The stone is too dry", "Then wet it", "With What?" "With water"

"How can I carry it?", "In the bucket"

"But there's a hole in the bucket"

You just need to find a way to break the circle of insanity - there are often many ways to accomplish the same task. Use an oil stone instead to sharpen the knife.....or instead of a knife use a table saw or band saw to cut the straw. The same applies to the shop. Barry makes a good point above about improving your speed by improving your shop and your workflow. Even in my small shop, I am amazed how much time I spend walking around to get the little items I need.

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What gets me is the "hole in the bucket" syndrome, where everything I want to do requires that I do something else first, and to accomplish that I need to do something else, and that task requires something else .... For those who don't know the American folk song... "There's a hole in the bucket", "Then fix it", "With what?" "With straw" "The straw is too long", "Then cut it", "With what?¨ "With the knife" "The knife is too dull", "Then sharpen it", "With what?" "The stone" "The stone is too dry", "Then wet it", "With What?" "With water" "How can I carry it?", "In the bucket" "But there's a hole in the bucket"

I love that song. My wife and sung a version of that at our weding recpetion. - I did the "There's a hole" lines and she did the, "fix it with" lines. I was funny - funnier after a few drinks.

I never worry about how fast I am going since I am doing this as a hobby. Enjoyment is my aim.

Now if I was making my living at this then I'd work at cutting down on the time.

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I know it's not a race and I enjoy my shop time. Sometimes I just get frustrated over how long it takes me to set up for a single cut or domino plunge. Example, I can't mark my pencil lines for my domino until I clamp the work together. But, the workpiece has a curve to it which complicates clamping. So on and so forth.....

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I think a big difference podcasting is that I tend to think about what I'll be doing that evening in front of the camera while off at lunch. In a way, while in front of the camera, I'm doing it a second time. And yes, tool setup is a big time-suck and that's edited out unless there's some special point to make. I will say that once I started podcasting, the projects started to go faster. I'll attribute that to two things: 1) all that pre-thinking I mentioned, 2) wanting to get an episode out every week means staying focused on getting a certain amount of work done with limited shop time; without that "milestone deadline" for the episode, it would be easy to loiter around the shop. That said, though, monkeying with the camera takes a lot more time than you'd think, at least for me.

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I know it's not a race and I enjoy my shop time. Sometimes I just get frustrated over how long it takes me to set up for a single cut or domino plunge. Example, I can't mark my pencil lines for my domino until I clamp the work together. But, the workpiece has a curve to it which complicates clamping. So on and so forth.....

I wouldnt stress over it. Concentrate on making the processes that really bug you more efficient . Maybe post more "how do I do this easier" questions.

Don

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When I think about solving big problems (projects) I always think that you do it the same way that you eat an elephant.......One bite at a time and it usually takes awhile. :)

I just finished making 5 pencil boxes for the children at church and it took me over a week to make them. They measure 5-1/2" x 9" x 3/4" thick and are all just alike and made in an assembly line mode. :blink:

Rog

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I just finished making 5 pencil boxes for the children at church and it took me over a week to make them. They measure 5-1/2" x 9" x 3/4" thick and are all just alike and made in an assembly line mode. :blink:

How'd you make them so fast??? ;^) I think that'd take me a month of Sundays at the pace I move....

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I would never ever use any type of video content as an indicator of total time investment. The whole point of video is to compress time. After all, how many folks would tune in to watch me squinting at my adjustable square for 5 minutes? I guess it might depend on what I'm wearing. :) Seriously though, even though my fellow podcasters and I are pretty good about showing the reality of woodworking (certainly much better than most DVDs and TV shows), we still wind up leaving out what we think of as the "boring stuff". And that does indeed include setup, some layout, and practice cuts.

Now that said, there is a certain amount of natural expedience that comes with confidence and experience with your tools and the process of building a project. I can honestly say I was a much slower woodworker when I first started. I was so slow that when I started my woodworking business, I didn't really know how to make good use of an 8-10 hr day. Working for another woodworker for a time cured me of that issue. I quickly realized I could get 10 times as much done per day just with a change in mentality. Add to that additional experience and confidence building, and I can really move quickly when I need to. But now that TWW is the bread and butter, I tend to work more like a hobbyist again. Honestly, I enjoy the slower pace so I can't complain.

The recent workbench build actually put my speed to the test a bit. WIth the new baby in the house, my shop time is limited. This is not a good thing for a Guild Build where I typically spend 5 days a week in the shop and 2 days editing just to get a video out each week. So I've had to pull out some of the old tricks to ramp up the speed while still doing all the filming and preparation that goes into making a video production.

So I certainly wouldn't be too hard on yourself. I think you'd be surprised to see just how slow the pace is in pretty much all of our shops.

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A big turning point in my woodworking was learning to slow down. I used to rush when I was in the shop and my earlier pieces suffered because of it. Now I take as much time as I need to get the job done properly, and I find it much more rewarding.

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Nick, have you ever checked out the shop cams? You might need to hunt around to find someone who's working when you are watching, but it might be a good way to see the pace at which other woodworkers work.

When people start their first woodworking project and ask me for advice, the one thing I tell them is, "Don't believe the TV shows. You'll spend lots of time on design, and figuring out the process, order of the cuts, etc, Then for each cut you'll spend lots of time measuring, marking, and setting up jigs and guides, and doing test cuts. Then you'll spend a couple seconds making the cut. When it comes to glue up, you'll spend lots of time test fitting, figuring out how to clamp everything, how to support everything, making sure you have enough clamps and they are all within reach. Then you spend a couple minutes gluing up. This is the right way to do it."

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You can only work as fast as your skill alllows you to. It is better to work slowly and build your skills and make less mistakes and work safely than to rush through projects trying to improve speed. You will get faster w/ as your skills progress through repetition, so be patient and not worry about speed but rather quality work.

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Oh Nick you're missing the wonderfulness of what makes my wood shop my safe haven, my place i go to get lost mentally for hours and hours on end sometimes I barely get anything done because of all the setups but i love being in there so much unless i have a deadline I never care about speed its all about how the project looks when done, and the wonderful mindless journey i took to get there "slaving away" in my shop. My wife unfortunately has learned its not a punishment to banish me to the barn.

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After all, how many folks would tune in to watch me squinting at my adjustable square for 5 minutes? I guess it might depend on what I'm wearing.

Five minutes of any XY squinting at a square? Probably not.

Five minutes of an XX squinting at a square? It would indeed depend on the wardrobe.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I know you want to see results but it is better to take your time, measure twice and cut once, dry fit and do it right the first time. My wife tends to wonder if I am ever going to get to a project. I spend a lot of time in the planning phase, my draw back is I only begin building something when I can see it in my head, might sound a little weird, but that is how I work. She thinks I am just sitting around, but I have to get my head wrapped around the design and project before I start.

That is not to say that I don't make modification on the fly, because I do. Not everything I come up with on paper and in my head works in the shop.

Just stay calm and keep at it. I have a good friend that gets so mad when he makes a mistake he will destroy the piece. Not all mistakes mean you have to back to the beginning. Sometimes you can adjust your design to make it work.

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I have a good friend that gets so mad when he makes a mistake he will destroy the piece. Not all mistakes mean you have to back to the beginning. Sometimes you can adjust your design to make it work.

Marc is one of the few "teachers" who will show how he screwed up, and how he fixed it. In reality, everyone screws up, and knowing how to work around the mistakes is a major part of the craft. They say, "It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools", well, I think it's a also a poor craftsman who gives up and starts over after every mistake. Fixing mistakes is part of the craft.

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