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.