In The Groove

As many of you know, I am a partner in Time Warp Tool Works.  Yes, I make awesome woodworking tools. Yes, I use woodworking tools to make crazy sculptural dining tables.  Yes, I make the wonderful food that brings happy people to the table.  Yes, I also wash the dirty dishes.  And yes, ladies, I’m single.

This past week, I was making moulding planes because our supply of yellow birch had acclimatized in my workshop and there are orders waiting to be filled.  (Relationship Study has not been sold yet.  Hint, hint!)

The first day, I was having trouble focusing.  I was not in the groove.  I was waffling over decisions and getting frustrated by the nuances of my tools.

 When I am not in the groove:
  1. I am disorganized and have to halt progress to find other parts or tools;
  2. I am constantly bumping into, knocking over, or damaging things;
  3. Not a single one of my dozen tape measures or two dozen pencils can be found;
  4. I cut pieces too short, cut them backwards, or cut the wrong ones;
  5. Glue-ups don’t fully close no matter how many clamps I apply;
  6. Every minor hiccup irritates me; and
  7. I am frustrated, impatient and overly aggressive.

But then I settled down and began making progress.

When I am in the groove:

  1. Every move is fluid, decisive and deliberate – almost like a dance – and the results are just as they should be;
  2. I know exactly what to do and how to do it;
  3. No matter how messy the shop may be, I know exactly where everything is;
  4. I remain focused on the current task, but also know the next step;
  5. Glue squeeze-out is an even row of small beads along the joint;
  6. Problems are challenges to which I already have solutions; and
  7. I am calm, relaxed and confident.

Today, I worked 14 hours straight, stopping only for a quick sandwich and probably a washroom break.

I made great progress.  My glue-ups were smooth and efficient with only a moderate amount of excess squeeze-out.  Parts were fitting together perfectly and nothing was getting to me – not even my dished workbench top or the two separate incidents when I ran the blades of two of my finely-tuned bench planes into metal.  (Note to self – build a new bench and install wooden bench dogs, you fool!)

In a follow-up article, I discuss strategies to get in the groove.

12 thoughts on “In The Groove

  1. Hey, Chris
    I know what you mean about being in the groove.. It’s worth taking a small break and getting your head together.. It’s called wood”working”, but it’s better when you work together with the wood and your tools.
    Also, to your other readers, I would like to brag that I got to see( and feel) your excellent table in person…. I’m sure it will sell easily…

      1. I have a few designs in mind… One is a table with a glass top over the slab top.. Floating on short pins… Butternut is pretty soft… I reserve the right to change my mind haha… I will keep you up to date!

          1. Haha.. Sometimes true… I was thinking more of a coffee table… Slab top and legs… Probably a stretcher.. The glass would float on pins slightl. Above the top.. With curved edges.. Like a rectanglewith edges bowing outwards.. I don’t think square glass would suit it…

  2. I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. I love the times I’m in the groove. So productive in those times! Some days are so out of the groove that I just have to walk away.

    As for the bench dogs, don’t you MAKE wooden dogs and sell them?! Lol

  3. My favorite part of being “in the groove” is the speed and accuracy with which you can work.

  4. Ah yes, we’ve all been there–the days and projects that simple will not go right. That’s the time to walk away and go see a movie or eat a tub of ice cream.

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