The Difficult Path

Article - October 16, 2009

Every Friday, I include a personal note in our Newsletter where I discuss some random event or concept. I never really know what I am going to write until I am sitting at the keyboard on Friday morning. Today’s newsletter note turned into more of a blog post and its something that I would like to hear people’s thoughts on. So I am re-posting it here. Enjoy!

I have a question for you. Have you ever taken the more difficult path on purpose? You could do something the easy way, with results that were just as good, but there was something about the more difficult path that drew you in. I confronted this as I was preparing for this month’s Guild project: a wall-hanging tool chest. I wasn’t sure whether to opt for a new joinery gizmo I am reviewing, or go the more challenging route with traditional dadoes (made even more complicated because of excessively undersized plywood and the fact that the dados are stopped). So as tempting as it was to try the new gizmo on this project, as it surely would have made life easier, I decided to opt for the dadoes. And while I’d like to claim some herioc noble reason, the truth is that the simple path just wouldn’t have done much justice to our viewers. The fact is, if you haven’t dealt with undersized plywood and stopped dadoes yet, you will. So you need to know how to deal with it, with or without a gizmo. And there is plenty of time to show how the gizmo works on future shows. So I wonder how many of you own something like a Domino, an FMT or a DowelMax, yet you still occasionally make your joints the old-fashioned way. Maybe you own a planer but you still break out your #7 and the smoother just for fun. Or perhaps you have a nice dovetail jig on the shelf collecting dust, because you really enjoy cutting them by hand. I know I could say yes to at least one of those scenarios, and I know I’m not alone. If you really think about it, we all share this common trait. Aren’t we all intentionally taking the more difficult path just by being woodworkers? In today’s day and age, do we really need to make our own furniture by hand?!?! Of course not, but we do it anyway. No matter how many splinters, cuts, and backaches we get, we would still rather be in the shop than just about anywhere else. So here’s to the difficult path! I shudder to think of a world without it!


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