Craftsmanship, it does not matter what you have heard, you can!
The other day, Sid said to me “When I was learning to be a gunsmith, I heard the following discussion:”
Apprentice: “I am ready to quit because I had no ability”,
Master craftsmen replied; “Can you use a knife and fork?”
Apprentice: “Yes, sir.”
Master craftsmen: “Then you have the ability, get on with it!”
The first truth of craftsmanship, we all have the craftsmanship ability. Gary Player, a great golfer, once said, after a reporter commented on how lucky he was, “ Yes, the more I practise, the luckier I become!” The first woodworking project will not be great, even the first 100 you will see little errors, make peace with it, wood is wood. The reality is that only you will see these errors after a while and the very critical people among us, the rest of the world will start appreciating the beauty and craftsmanship that you applied. When I did my workshop training, I was given a little block of steel to file down to a very specific size. I worked at it for four weeks to get it right, some guys only a day or two but we all got it done! I had needed five blocks before it was “perfect”. I am not suggesting to file a block of steel, what I am getting at is; that you must repeat your first woodworking project sometimes. Don’t start with a big woodworking project, start with a little box. A container for screws, say about 100 mm or 4 inches square, as this will keep the cost down, and you will only need a limited number of tools. You will need wood, small saw, some glue, a square (anything that has a 90-degree corner), rule and pencil. Have fun!
- When one starts the process of learning a new ability, you will go through some stages;
Acquire the knowledge. Knowledge is not a single thing; it’s like a book with many chapters and just like with a book you need to finish a chapter. Libraries, Google and YouTube (See how others do it) are wonderful places to get knowledge. In the case of the woodworking box, you will need to know how to saw, glue, measure, sand, etc.
- Practise or implement the knowledge. You make a box with the new knowledge that you have gained. As you repeat this woodworking project, in this case, a box, you will find little details that improves your effort as well as make it easier.
- Become confident in your ability to use this knowledge. As you repeat the box, you will start seeing places where people have applied this knowledge,
new projects and ideas where you can apply this or part of this knowledge. You can now do it on autopilot.
We all need to create; this is the second truth of craftsmanship:
Workmanship/Craftsmanship is a human attribute relating to knowledge and skill at performing a task. Workmanship is considered to have been a
valued human attribute even in prehistoric times. In the opinion of the economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen, the sense of workmanship is probably the single most important attribute governing the material well-being of a people, with only the parental instinct coming a close second.
When I read this the first time, I was not impressed, but over time it becomes very clear that “sense of craftsmanship” (to create) is one of the cornerstones of being human. Don’t limit you thinking, the sense of craftsmanship covers all creating! I extracted this paragraph from the article below;
When we think of the archetypal craftsman, images of a bearded man clad in a leather apron and rolled-up sleeves, toiling away in his workshop producing beautiful and useful items comes to mind. What’s interesting is that the ancient Greeks had a much more inclusive idea of the craftsman than our modern conception. Besides masons, potters, and carpenters, the ancient Greeks included jobs now considered “knowledge professions” like doctors, legislators, and administrators under the craftsman label. Even the work of a father was considered a craft of sorts that required the same care and attention to detail as that of the carpenter. Indeed, the ancient Greeks believed that the values and ethos of craftsmanship were things all should seek to live by. In so doing, a man could achieve arete, or excellence, and thus experience eudaimonia, or a flourishing life.
I talk about woodworking, but I also run my own website, creating is fantastic, the moment you can stand back and see the fruits of your labour, wow. Don’t procrastinate, just do it!! Just one final comment, find one activity where you create a physical item!
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