I think it is. They share a lot of attributes. They are both difficult. They both take a lot of time and patience. And they are both incredibly rewarding. Even if you don’t know it yet.
I’ve tried woodworking. Just like a lot of other crafts, I love it. However, it’s not what I would want to do every day for a living.
It can be exhausting. Especially if what you are building is large. Take for example what The Master Carpenter I’ve worked for builds.
The last table I helped him build weighed over 400 lbs. Definitely a team lift sort of situation.
Just to make the furniture building process more interesting, he doesn’t buy wooden boards at the local home improvement store. He likes to start at the beginning, like any expert craftsman.
So put on your hiking boots. We’re going on a little nature hike. Luckily there is a huge forest not far away from the woodworking shop.
Step 1: Find the Perfect Tree
Just a mile or so each way. All we need are a few chainsaws and some heavy equipment. Easy day. No sweat.
All we need to do is keep up with our expert carpenter while he finds the perfect tree.
Side note, usually “perfect tree” is another way to say at least 60ft tall with a minimum of 3 ft in diameter. Don’t worry, we’ll let the carpenter do the chainsawing.
But… when you hear the words yelled, “TIMBER”, just make sure you’re at least 60 ft away from the action.
Step 2: Cut It Down, Cut It Up, Drag It Out
Ok, the tree is down. Now we all need to jump into action. Grab a chainsaw and start cutting this huge massive tree into 8 ft lengths.
Make sure to delimb it as well. Don’t let the chainsaw get in a bind or it will jump back and chop your face/leg/arm off. So, do try to be careful.
Whew, ok. Now we just need to drag each 8 ft section of the tree out of the forest one at a time.
No need to work that hard, that’s why we brought the heavy equipment. Let’s see, that should only be about 7 trips or so.
Once we get all the pieces back, were going to saw them all into flat pieces with a sawmill. This could be a little dangerous too, so be careful.
The sawmill cuts the wood with a huge saw belt mounted on a slide.
All you have to is grab the slide handle and use your weight to push the blade all the way through each slice of the tree. Be careful.
Each one of these slabs still weighs a few hundred pounds.
We are finally getting to a weight people could theoretically move the wood slabs around without equipment. Hernia much?
Step 3: Wait… Wait?
Now, all we have to do is stack every single slab on top of each other and let it air dry for… give or take 6 months. Then we can finally get to work.
Step 4: Are we there yet?
Ok, it’s 6 months later, all the board slabs are dry. Time for the plainer.
This is the step that makes the top and the bottom of the wooden slab perfectly flat. Like your dining room table.
They still weigh a lot so “team lift” is still in effect. Since we have to get both sides flat and even, each slab will have to be sent through the plainer anywhere from 5-15 times.
Step 5: Breakthrough
I realized the following after a few hours of plaining wood slabs:
- It’s taken a lot of effort and time to get this far. Every step of the way seemed impossible in its own way. The end goal seems so far away.
- Luckily every time we carried the board around to send it through the plainer again, something magical was happening. The board was getting lighter. It took two of us to pick it up at first. But now, I can easily hold it up myself. Not to mention, we are really close to actually building the table.
- The goal is a lot closer now. That’s giving me more energy. It’s not so heavy anymore. And while I was worried about how difficult each step was, every step was getting easier. Now all the pieces are flat. We make the table itself in a few hours.
Step 6: Sweep Up
And that’s how woodworking is like life. Even though it seems like you’ll never get there. Every painful step is getting you closer to your goal. And whether you realize it or not, every step it gets easier.
It’s a lot like trying to learn any skill. It seems impossible at first. But when you look back, it’s satisfying. And you have an awesome and solid new table.
It’s your turn. What else does woodworking remind you about life?
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