Q&A OF THE WEEK: “Why Does My Woodworking Take So Long?”

Patience is keyQ: Why is it that no woodworkers I watch on YouTube give specific amounts of time it takes to make projects? It’s discouraging for newbies like me when something looks easy but takes me forever. What am I doing wrong?

A: My own approach to learning new skills has always been that a job takes as long as it takes. That said, I always try to work more efficiently, but never at the cost of quality. Eventually, after years, the magic of experience will kick in and quality will come together with speed and freedom from errors. I made tons of mistakes of design and workmanship when I began woodworking in high school 40 years ago, but now I rarely make any significant errors. There’s no magic, just do the work, aim towards excellence consistently, then speed will develop in time. The same dynamic works for every manual skill I’ve ever tried to learn. We live in a world that encourages impatience, but sometimes it simply takes time for gains to grow.

Time + Right Efforts = Success in my experience.

Here’s another example . . . when I started doing traditional stonework in 1986, I made tons of errors and was particularly slow. Now I’m much faster and almost never make anything beyond tiny mistakes. These days it would take me about 1 hour to accomplish what Idid in my first full day of stoneworking. It’s such a pleasure to be able to work error-free or nearly error-free. Anyone can achieve these results, but it takes time. Impatience is the thing that makes you discouraged and impatience is your biggest enemy. One last thing, educational TV shows and YouTube videos can offer a lot of value, but they can also trigger disappointment and discouragement for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Always remember that what you see on a screen (and especially TV screens) is largely fantasy. 

I’ve created hundreds of how-to woodworking articles for this website. Simply type “woodworking” into the magnifying glass at the top right of this page and you’ll find them. Learning from the experiences of others is an excellent way to make your learn phase as short and efficient as possible.

Click here to learn five deep and useful woodworking tricks. These are things I’ve learned over the decades that they’ll help any beginner a lot.

Posted on April 19th, 2019