Build on the Shoulders of Giants

You can always tell a new motorcyclist. They are hyper focused on the controls, the machine and what’s in their front tires path. They’ve learned about shifting gears (one down, five up, neutral in-between) but haven’t experienced the toe force required or the variable rpm makes. Each shift is an adrenaline filled cardiac arrest in anticipation of what will happen. The same is true for the clutch and throttle. That’s just the go side of the equation. You still have to stop (balance front and rear), steer (turn left to go right) and position yourself to put a foot down when the chaos ends. (Oh no, a pothole….) Do we need to mention that all this coordination results in motion so direction can be a mild distraction.

This is the perfect time to introduce road construction design theory into this Tasmanian Devil level of activity. Yes, a new motorcyclist needs to be bombarded with ideas on pee gravel size, rebar alignment, frost heave, banking, runoff, environmental impact and the like.

Sounds stupid doesn’t it. Yet isn’t that what most of us woodworkers do. Before passing the white belt level we’ve got pen and paper, or sketch-up, out designing pieces to build. I know I’m guilty of this. And my results show what a horrible mistake that is. I think most experienced woodworkers cringe at the first piece they designed and built because the design aspect was entered into way to early.

Why do this to ourselves when we have titans that went ahead of us on this woodworking journey and built a network of paths to follow. There is a wealth of designs in our history anyone would be proud to have in their home that would allow a beginner to focus on only tool usage and joinery. Designs that will last the test of time so that at a later date you can pass it on without embarrassment. That isn’t to say later on down the road you couldn’t veer left into a field of daisies. But at least wait until you’re out of the city with a few miles under your belt so you can enjoy the journey as well the ride.

[This editorial motivated by the “Why the hell did I build it this way.” thought I had while repairing a garden bench I built, again.]

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