Don’t take my word for it
Vic Tesolin believes that if you want to grow as a woodworker, you must try something before dismissing it.
Back in my Army days, I remember a particularly crusty sergeant who used to say “I don’t have to stick my hand up a cow’s butt to feel a steak, I’ll take the butcher’s word for it.” I’m not really sure what the context was for such a statement, but he said it often enough that I still remember it all these years later. Regardless, it’s a statement that I disagree with.
The Royal Society in London is the oldest national scientific institution in the world. Now, they have a motto that I can truly get behind – “Nullius in verba,” which translates to “take nobody’s word for it.” So instead of taking someone’s word for it, try for yourself and make up your own mind.
We are fortunate in today’s world that we have tons of resources on almost any subject at our fingertips—modern day rabbit holes really. The problem with all that information is that we tend to spend too much time reading and studying, and not enough time trying. Grain direction is a fine example. You can read all you want about grain direction or you can simply plane a board one way and then plane it the other way and see how it goes. You’ll learn about tearout and grain direction much faster if you conduct your own experiments—by simply trying.
I was once told by a woodworker I trusted that you shouldn’t use WD-40 in the shop because if it gets onto wood, it can prevent finish from sticking. So, I never used the amazing WD-40 in my shop. Then, years later, a popular author blogged about how great WD-40 was and how he used it in his shop all the time. I almost posted a comment calling bologna, but I stopped myself and decided to give it a try first.
I planed a piece of cherry, sprayed the surface with WD-40, and let it dry. I then sprayed three coats of waterborne lacquer on the board and let that dry. I was shocked to find that the advice I had been given was wrong. The finish stuck just fine! I learned a valuable lesson that day. Now I use WD-40 in the shop for all sorts of things.
There are many of us creating articles and videos for you to consume. I recommend that you read and watch, then head to the bench and give things a try. I have often read something that challenges my beliefs, and it tends to be easiest to dismiss these views as incorrect and continue living an insular existence. However, if you want to grow as a woodworker, head to the shop and give it try. What do you have to lose? You may discover a new or more effective way to do things.
You can do the same old thing, the same old way, and get the same old results. Or you can try something new, expand your knowledge, and discover techniques you’ve never tried before. Moss never grows on a rolling stone.
In order to understand, you must do. – V