The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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Was it all worth it?


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I’ve never been a “what’s in it for me?” type of guy. I think that is what makes me a good worker and employee, and possibly a good father and husband. I’m not going to tell anybody I’m a selfless martyr either, but I generally don’t do things with some sort of nefarious ulterior motive; I just do what feels right much of the time. That is probably how I started writing this blog. Yet a comment made on the post I wrote yesterday really made me wonder why I actually continue to do this. There was nothing wrong with the comment at all; it was a friendly comment from a nice guy. But the comment did have a point: In theory the whole world can read this blog, and in theory they can all be laughing at it. For the record I don’t think everybody is laughing at it, but I do wonder who, if anybody, cares?

What has this blog done for me? What has it brought to the people who read it? I can say for sure that I don’t write this blog to make money from it. Nobody pays me to write it, I’m not sponsored by a corporation. I don’t use this blog to sell furniture because I don’t sell furniture. Everything I make is for my own house. I would like to be a woodworker who is talented enough to sell furniture one day, but that doesn’t mean that I would go into business. If you can’t already tell I’m not a professional writer and I don’t really aspire to be a pro, either. I respect the job and the talent it takes to do it, and I would hope those that do it well make a decent living at it, but I don’t believe that it is my station in life to do it. I can’t necessarily say that I’m an informative blog writer. Maybe this blog has helped somebody out, maybe not. I’ve been woodworking for less than five years and on weekends at that. Again, I like to think that I’m pretty good considering my experience, but there are many woodworkers who also have blogs that are much more qualified than I to pass on advice.

I’ve been lucky enough to become acquainted with some really great people and woodworkers through this blog, and at the same time I know I’ve made a few enemies. I won’t name any names or point any fingers but I know of at least three professional woodworkers that don’t care for me very much, and there’s at least one semi-pro that doesn’t think I’m a super swell guy. That is partially my fault and I can’t say that I’m proud of it. Sometimes I’ve ranted and raved, or maybe gave an opinion that should have been left unwritten. But I feel that in order to write something compelling you need to be honest, with others and yourself. So that’s why I’ve maybe been over-the-top honest, and maybe even what you would call downright angry on some of my posts. I didn’t do it for shock factor, I’m not Howard Stern. Believe me if I wanted to be shocking I could be, but I would be talking politics and not woodworking. I did it because I thought people might be interested to hear what I had to say. The problem was that some of those who were interested also didn’t happen to care for it so much.

A few months back I wrote a post that offended a few people although that wasn’t my intent. At that time I very nearly stopped writing this blog, because whatever it may be, it isn’t a hate manifesto. I left the post up, though maybe I should have deleted it. But as I was saying, maybe deleting it may have been the easy thing to do, yet it wouldn’t have been the honest thing. Now, as I am reconsidering things, it isn’t because I’ve offended anybody, or got into some kind of woodworking argument, it’s just because the blog has been as much trouble as it’s been worth sometimes, which is probably my fault too. I won’t deny that I’ve gotten some great advice here. And I really like to think that some of the people I communicate with on a regular basis because of this blog would probably be people that I would be hanging with at the local pub watching sports if the geography was different. The converse is because of this blog I would probably be escorted out of Woodworking in America by security if I showed up. I could just as easily follow the blogs on my blog roll and get some good advice, keep in touch with my internet woodworking friends, and leave the occasional comment when I see fit. That would certainly be a lot more painless than some of my blogging exploits.

I guess I have a little bit of thinking to do. Maybe everybody who writes a blog goes through this at some point. I have a lot to write about, that isn’t the problem; the problems usually show up afterwards. Right now, at this moment, much of me thinks it’s all still worth it. The shadow of doubt has managed to creep into through the window, though. I think it’s just a shadow, only time well tell. Maybe the easy thing would be to just stop getting so personal on this blog, and write my posts that detail whatever I happen to be working on at the moment, or a new tool I purchased. I’ve never been one who does things the easy way, but I might be willing to learn.

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4 Comments

  1. Jonas Jensen says:

    I would like to be able to write as interesting posts as you, but I think that my English proficiency is not high enough. So it would be a pain to read. That is why I am sort of stuck with the “what I did today” posts.
    Those posts are usually forgotten within an hour after reading them.

    The entries that you remember are those that dare address serious matters. And serious matters usually means that people reading them have different opinions on the subject.

    It is hard to disagree or even offer an insightful comment to a post like: “I painted a bookshelf today”. You could off course go the hate way and get your own ego boosted by ridiculing the job, the colour, the paint type etc.
    You could also leave a friendly comment that will stay with the writer for a long time and make his day a little better, just like: looking good, or nice job etc.
    But unless it was a really nice build, chances are that you will have forgotten about the post after a little time.

    If on the other hand, you read a post that actually require you to pay attention to the text to get the meaning, and it touches a serious subject of which you know a little or have some interest. Then chances are that you re read some passages of the text, before commenting. And then this text is fairly well embedded in your brain.
    E.g. a post suggests that you should consider if you think it is ethical to work woods that are from a development country, be it plywood or solid wood. The positive thing for the country is that they will get some hard currency for their country. The bad thing is that it will deplete their natural resources, and that the work is perhaps carried out in a not so safe way and even with the help of children.
    Here as I see it, we are left with three choices if we want to leave a comment:
    1) Nice post.
    2) I use exotics because they need the cash/investments to develop the country further.
    3) I never use exotics, because it should not be harvested for the benefit of someone in the industrialized world, etc.

    If you go for option 2) or 3) you are pretty sure to make some people think you are a jerk.
    Imagine if you write the post, AND makes a stand that you use or don’t use the wood. Then I think that you know the outcome of that by experience. But you can also be pretty darn sure that people in both camps will remember who wrote the post and that he had an opinion on the matter.

    Have a nice weekend
    Jonas

    • billlattpa says:

      I think you’re doing a great job on your blog. The posts are interesting, and the details of your builds are in-depth enough to understand what you are doing, yet not so in-depth that they become boring. I usually like reading blog posts detailing a build. I think you have to be a pretty good writer to keep something like that interesting. When I’m building something I try to detail it without over dramatizing everything. I don’t know exactly how good I am at doing it but I try. I’ve found that I am able to write about woodworking as a hobby much better than I am at detailing making a table. I try but I don’t always succeed.
      You also made a good point about the blog posts that are not descriptive enough. I’ve read several so-called “acclaimed” blogs with posts such as: Finished the mortises in the legs today. I think I will attach them tomorrow. Then there would be a few photos of them for good measure. I’m not going to criticize blogs such as those or the people who write them. But I do have a bone to pick with the people who would call those posts “Must Read” yet tell me that a post that I happened to write was insulting…. Again, I’m not going to name any names, I don’t mean to insult any person’s blog, I’m just pointing out that in order to make people think, and make myself think, I need to be honest and provocative. There are some so-called professionals who don’t want that. If that’s the case I don’t know if I want to continue to do this.
      thanks.
      Bill

  2. I find the posts that are most interesting are the ones others find offensive. So I will say “well done” and stick to your conviction. 🙂

  3. billlattpa says:

    The woodworking world isn’t a place that is generally rife with controversy. But there are a few who believe that their opinions are the only that matter, and worse, there are more than a few who take those opinions and take them as gospel truth and use them to insult everybody and everything that doesn’t conform to them. I half jokingly call it Woodworking Fascism. Those are the guys that I can’t stand and the same that I am constantly writing about. The worst part about it all is that I’ve met a fair share of them and they are the biggest pussies in the world. But don’t hate groups always draw that type of crowd? Thank you.
    Bill

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