Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘woodworking

Tool Marks

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I’ve reached the phase of my latest wood sculpting project where I’m happy with the shape and am ready to sand it smooth, but that goal is hampered by the straggling tool marks that remain. Each time I move to a finer grit of sandpaper, the next level of imperfections become apparent.

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I used a grinder to rough out the shape and then some rasping with a metal file to refine it before switching to hand sanding. Inevitably, there ends up being one bothersome spot where the previous tools went a hair deeper than anywhere else. That spot pretty much ends up defining the point of completion.

At least, in that spot with that grit of sandpaper.

Usually, as I move to the next finer grit, several new scuffs appear. Rinse, repeat.

It’s very meditative for my brain, despite becoming a bit of a burden on my aging arthritic grip.

If I don’t have a bright sunny day to illuminate the finest detail, I resort to a headlamp. Otherwise, it looks just fine the way it is to my old eyes.

The prefectionist in me would never settle for that.

While working to clear snow off the roof a few weeks ago, I resorted to repeatedly telling myself that perfect is the enemy of good enough. Any snow removed was better than none at all.

When it comes to a polished wood sculpture, my feelings are just the opposite. I can’t quit until tool marks are gone. At least, on the primary features, anyway. I grant myself some leeway where my design transitions from the rough unfinished bark to the smoothly shaped and polished wood grains.

I have the advantage of not being faced with time constraints in my sculpting projects. That makes all the difference, allowing me to work as fast or slow as I choose to reach the end result I seek, infusing love into the piece all the while.

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Written by johnwhays

February 16, 2021 at 7:00 am

Next Steps

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Blessed with another glorious day of blue sky and sunshine on a Friday, Cyndie and I returned to the deck refurbishing project yesterday. The temperature was a little harsh at the start but soon warmed to perfection. Even after I had removed all the screws from the set of steps we started on, I couldn’t get the boards loose until I figured out they were frozen in place. A little persuasion from a hammer was all it took to break the ice.

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I was grateful to have Mike’s power tools to create cut-outs on boards and lucky to have an old length of 4 x 4 in the shop to replace a rotted post on the railing of the second set of steps.

My perfectionistic desires are being seriously taxed by the difficulties of coping with inconsistencies in both the new wood and the old. I repeatedly measured twice before cutting and usually double-checked positioning before drilling in screws, but the results far too often failed to match my intentions.

Fortunately, my standards are loosening as the duration of this project drags on. I’m starting to view the imperfections as features. The misalignments are becoming quaint reminders of how much money we saved by doing this ourselves.

One example: I cut a new face board to go along with the replaced railing post and centered it on the middle frame board. After starting at the top and screwing in boards on each step, I discovered at the bottom that the middle frame board wasn’t actually centered between the ends.

I centered on something that wasn’t centered. Wonderful.

When one of my last boards with cut-outs was found to be off by a quarter-inch, I decided to simply cut an equal amount off the other end and have a symmetrical difference. Somehow, it still ended up lopsided once it was screwed down.

I swear, things move even after there are screws in place.

In the end, none of the small details I fret over will be noticeable to the casual observer. I’m practicing the art of being okay with the imperfections.

Maybe, just maybe, the end is within reach today. We are going to aim for that goal, especially since the weather is once again, perfectly accommodating.

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Sanding Along

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In a minor deviation from the original weekend plan, we returned to Wintervale in the early afternoon yesterday. We had a great time seeing friends and family, but after breakfast at the Original Pancake House with Ben and Althea, all we wanted was to be back at our paradise home.

That gave me a chance to spend a few more minutes sanding my relief carving project in the sunshine on the deck.

At this point, the changes are small, but I find them very satisfying. Worth the wait.

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See how the lines of the grain move?

I love to watch the change. It’s still a mystery where those lines will be when I finally reach the final shape. That is a good part of the adventure of sanding and shaping wood.

It was a perfect project for the end of our little weekend “staycation.”

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Written by johnwhays

September 10, 2018 at 6:00 am