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The Editors Mailbox

Poll: What's more important? Speed or the joy of woodworking?

comments (13) January 19th, 2010 in blogs

GEide GEide, Contributor
thumbs up 5 users recommend

When you head into the woodshop, what’s more important? Getting your work done fast or taking time to "smell the roses" and enjoy the process of woodworking?

On Thursday, two Fine Woodworking staffers will face off in a live video event, a Tenon Shootout, each championing their favorite technique. Art director Michael Pekovich favors the tablesaw/dado set method while associate editor Matt Kenney likes to cut his tenons by hand.

This raises the question… what do woodworkers value most when they head into the shop? Is your top priority to crank out furniture pieces? (Whittling down the honey-do list? Or getting client pieces out the door?)

Or, is the process of woodworking the destination? For hobbyist, perhaps they spend enough of their time focusing on speed during their day job. Maybe shop time on weekends or evenings is an opportunity to slow down.

What do you think? Vote in our poll or post a comment below with feedback. We’ll bring up these results in the Shootout on Thursday.


More on tenon cutting

Poll: How do you cut tenons?
Tenon Shootout: Jan. 21 live event announcement
Tenon Shootout: The original article
Tenoning Strategies: 6 ways to cut a tenon
Video: Make Your Own Tenoning Jig (Tablesaw Method)
Video: Tenoning Jig for the Sophisticate (Router Method) Membership Required
Tool Review: Commercial Tenoning Jig
Horizontal Router Table
Double-Blade Tablesaw Tenoning
• Tablesaw tenoning jigs: by Larry Humes, Joe MooreMembership Required, Harrie Burnell Membership Required, Mac CambellMembership Required.

posted in: blogs, poll

Comments (13)

GraniteBayWoodworker GraniteBayWoodworker writes: I am not sure that speed and process are mutually exclusive. I agree that I am looking for results and if I don't have the skill for an entirely hand cut approach, I'll use the tools and skill I do have to make my project. I see nothing wrong with some power assist to get a better result than I could do by hand.
Posted: 9:20 pm on January 21st

fortkeeper fortkeeper writes: I don't understand how anyone can just say that the process is the destination. Part of the joy of the process is in knowing it leads somewhere. Who wants to plant a garden if there's not going to be any tomatoes? I think we call it accomplishment, and without it it's called spinning our wheels. As I learn more about this craft, I find it very satisfying to see myself improving at moving through the process toward an end. I'm not happy with my efficiency so I'm going to spend some money on a class and get some help with that. If I can learn to cut dovetails for a drawer in an hour (at the same or better quality), I'll feel more proud than if it takes me four hours. The improving is what keeps me coming back to it. But, if I don't have an aptitude for the work, I'll have to settle for being content with the process... I'll spend less on wood, which is good. And there's no pressure.
Posted: 7:30 pm on January 21st

oldat45 oldat45 writes: if i'm making a piece for a customer i'm more than likely using a jig setup (accuracy and speed) if i'm making something for myself or a friend or family i'm more than likely doing it by hand (that's when i'm doing it for fun and not worrying about dollars). And FesGaucho, 60 percent of the time i'm right 100 percent of the time (stolen line), that is my absolute.
Posted: 12:54 pm on January 21st

MKenney MKenney writes: Personally, I'm always trying to improve my speed. I love the process, but want to be more efficient. I don't like tedious, stuttering tasks. I like to get in a groove and work quickly. In other words, just because you enjoy the process doesn't mean you can work quickly and efficiently.

Posted: 9:41 am on January 21st

nkaspar nkaspar writes: I like being able to do something that requires some skill and is somewhat unique. Couple that with creating something that is a little different and can be shared with others; that has great appeal. The rest is a pleasant way to spend time.
Posted: 12:02 am on January 21st

nhieger nhieger writes: I am more of a machinist and enjoy the set up, making fixtures and jigs as much as the project. I also think I may get more bang for my machine dollar than I do form high quality specialized hand tools. My favorite machine tools are old made in the USA heavy iron that I enjoy bringing back to life and using. All that being said it’s hard to beat the feel of a well tuned quality hand plane in action.
Posted: 11:16 pm on January 20th

missoulamatt missoulamatt writes: although I like the process of working wood, the reason for doing it is to make something for my clients or myself to enjoy and use.

Posted: 10:38 pm on January 20th

FesGaucho FesGaucho writes: Is not all or nothing to me. Is both. Depends. I don't like to be absolute ... and I am absolute about this.
Posted: 9:35 pm on January 20th

pmw07 pmw07 writes: I think its both. There are times when pine shavings smell like heaven and times when they smell like mulch. There are times when I could take all day hand planing a piece of cherry and days when I'd rather put it through a machine. There are projects that I have to finish by the end of the day for me or someone else and those that I've yet to finish for me or someone else. I think what's more important isn't how long it took to do the project, but how long I remember the project after its done.
Posted: 9:18 pm on January 20th

RalphBarker RalphBarker writes: I think the answer depends on whether the work is being done as a hobbyist or a pro, where time is a balance between quality and profit.

Personally, I mostly like to take my time, smelling the fresh shavings (or, sawdust) along the way.

With respect to methods (the focus of the tenon-out), however, my choices are often based on how I feel my hand skills compare, precision-wise, to what I can achieve with a machine. Proper set-up of the machine often takes longer for me, though.
Posted: 6:09 pm on January 20th

PTLorenz PTLorenz writes: In my experience, the speed of completion is a major component of woodworking enjoyment, particularly when speed doesn't compromise quality. I think I can echo the feelings of most of my fellow woodworkers if I say that our minds are in constant motion, striking the balance between higher quality and more efficient methods.
At heart, most of us are engineers. One of the many aspects of woodworking we enjoy is the problem-solving reality of time vs precision, while balancing art with durability.
I've been a woodworker for thirty years, a pro for about 22 years. I the more I know, the more I realize how much I still have to learn from others. Many of us (myself included) tend to happily go at full mental throttle in the shop, and then "smell the roses" at the end of the day, after a shower, and with a Pabst.
Posted: 5:27 pm on January 19th

fidgen fidgen writes: Gina,
Working in a 'hand tool only' woodshop it always has to boil down to the love of the craft- even when I'm pushing a clients piece out the door! If that feeling ever changes I'd probably just go back to the Set Design Industry.
That said, hand tool work doesn't have to be slow and I'll be interested to see the outcome of the Tenon Shootout-
Posted: 5:20 pm on January 19th

Bowis Bowis writes: My answer is "it depends". I get very little satisfaction out of things such as sharpening, dimensioning lumber, sanding, and applying that 5th coat of varnish. However, I get a great deal of satisfaction from design, lumber selection, component layout, joinery, and finish planing. So I invest in as much big iron and automation for the tasks I don't enjoy so I can spend more time on the parts I do enjoy.
Posted: 4:04 pm on January 19th

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