Benchmarks: Mike Pekovich’s Strategies for Success
As much as I love designing furniture, craftsmanship is at the forefront of my concerns when I build, and it’s that aspect by which I am most likely to judge my efforts. I’m definitely not alone in that pursuit. Every woodworker I know strives to do better work, though with varying amounts of success and frustration.
At its heart, craftsmanship can be defined as doing accurate work. And accurate work requires skill—the ability to saw straight, scribe a line, fit a joint—and precision in laying out joinery and setting up machines, for instance.
But there’s a third component of doing accurate work that is often overlooked: Strategy. The strategy we employ when building, how we go about linking all the individual tasks into an overall process, affects the accuracy of our work just as much as the skill and care we invest. Because of that, just focusing on getting better and working harder won’t necessarily get us to the finish line we’re aiming for. As I’ve strived to become a better woodworker, my skills and the care I invest in my work have certainly improved, but making positive changes in the way I build has had the biggest impact on the accuracy in my work and the ease in which I get there.
Information on building strategies in Fine Woodworking is easy to find once you know where to look. Every project has dimensioned drawings, and while that information is useful, the really valuable information is in the how-to—the step-by-step process in which the piece is built. Pay attention to the process and you’ll begin to see common approaches of professional makers that you can put to use yourself.
Beyond project articles, there are some great resources by some of the most brilliant makers in the craft that have had a big impact on how I think about building. I think they will help you out as well. Here are some of my favorites.
Creative Director, Fine Woodworking