Thursday, June 02, 2016


Save 15% at Shop Woodworking with Offer Code STOWE15Every craftsman will know that perfection is elusive. Part of the problem is that as we grow in what we do, we face a shift in values and understanding, thereby moving the goal post further away.

As a teacher I encourage my students to see their work clearly and from such a perspective that they may see where it can be improved and where their next session of growth may lie. But we rarely see immediately before us, that which may lie down the road, even years away.

I wrote a short essay on perfection in one of my first books, that has been republished in my new book (a compilation of my first two).  Popular Woodworking has sent that essay out in their newsletter. So I have been hearing from friends that they've received it and read it. There is also an advertisement in that newsletter offering my book for 28.99. But if you want to buy it, use this link and the checkout code Stowe15 to get the book at a discount and save money.

My hope in that essay, written about 16 years ago, was to invite my readers to take chances in their work, to feel comfortable in doing new things and to learn from the experience.

I have had a delay in having an editor come from Fine Woodworking for articles that were planned. I had written an article for American Woodworker about a router table that uses a pivot fence, and even though the tables in the article are actually quite different, the subject matter was close enough as to create a sense of discomfort among the Fine Woodworking editorial staff.  The editor will come at another time to shoot the other article they had planned. The delay is a welcomed relief in my schedule as I plan for classes at Marc Adams School and complete end of the year reports from the Clear Spring School. I have also been meeting with teachers at Clear Spring School to plan for the next school year.

So what is perfection? The link to the newsletter is here so that you can read what I said so many years ago. It is still pertinent. And I've a bit more to add. When your work reaches a level that you may consider perfection is it because you've only chosen to do the easy stuff that poses the least risk? Growth is always fraught with error, and occasional disappointment. And so if perfection is to be found in the process of growth and not necessarily ever in the object created, is it not there in every sincere act?

Speaking of which, there is a brief article on the importance of empathy in Time Magazine this week. It seems that the age of the selfie is not working out so well for our kids or their parents, or for our culture at large. Perhaps, on the brighter side, the selfie age may lead children to do real things. Looking stupid on the www. can only go so far.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the chance of learning likewise.

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