Facing failure

Woodworkers make mistakes. Tons of them. The mark of a good one is keeping them hidden or being able to correct them sufficiently. I’m not a good woodworker. Yet.

Failure is another story. Failure is when a mistake is made in such a manner that it cannot be fixed, hidden, or incorporated in the design so that it looks planned. Failure is that point where all you can do is start over. I had one of those points yesterday, trying to rout an opening for a router plate. It was going well, until the template slipped and I made I nice little channel about three inches outside where it needed to be. It was MDF, and there was really no fixing that. In a fit of frustration, I threw the almost-finished table top into the yard – ironically, into the new shop footprint that I also had to stop working on. Combined with the fact I couldn’t quite get the corners of the template right, I felt like an abject failure. If I can’t make a simple router table top right, what can I really do?

It’s a situation I find myself in occasionally. Temporary, situation depression about my shop situation, the work I put out, things of that nature. I think of the other ways my time and money can be used. I wonder why I keep pouring myself into a hobby that I may never really get the hang of. I’ve come off the ledge a few times. Usually what helps is some time off, let the frustration pass and come back to it. My willingness to come back to it later has been the proof to me that I really want to stick with it. That one day, I’ll produce something that I’m truly proud of. I’m proud of a couple of things at the time, then it goes a few months later and think of all the faults.

If something was easy, everyone would do it. If building nice furniture was easy, IKEA wouldn’t exist. Or perhaps it would be a Swedish restaurant. I know deep down that if I don’t keep trying, instead of situational failures, it will be a complete failure. My failures define me, but only in a positive way. I’ve always learned more from the times I fail than the times I succeed. So, I will keep learning, keep coming back, and keep trying to be better at not only woodworking, but life.

Keep failing. It’s good for you.

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