Why I Don’t Care and Why You Shouldn’t Either

By Pinktoesandpowertools | Random Thoughts + Ramblings

I can only go so long reading something that irritates me before I drag out the soapbox.  So I’m dragging it out again, hoping it will purge me of the irritation–and hopefully help you navigate a similar situation.  If not, we can lament together.  Unfortunately, the cause of my ire is–and it pains me to say this–other woodworkers.  Not all other woodworkers, just a select few elitist woodworkers.

I would avoid them altogether, but they pop up regularly when I go to do some woodworking “how-to” web research.  If you have done any of that beyond Ana-White.com, you have probably encountered them also.  For instance, when I was looking into crown moulding recently, I ran across some boards where the “pros” frequent and they were talking about how irritating it is for them when most of the homes they go into have the crown installed upside down–one mentioned that he doesn’t even tell the homeowner because obviously they are happy with it the way it is.

(lost the image in the blog move, darn it)

How kind of him.  The torment he must feel letting that go.

Have you ever looked at crown?  I’m pretty sure it doesn’t really matter which way you put it up–it is visually appealing either way!!  And you know what?  I used baseboard moulding upside down in my crown application as a way to stack the moulding and get a chunkier look.

Up.side.down.

Oh the horror.

Interestingly enough, putting the baseboard on upside down was a suggestion from some “pros”.  Apparently it is only acceptable to use moulding upside down in certain applications.

Drawer construction is a sure-fire way to bring the elitists out of the woodwork (oh, the wonderful puns!).  Some feel that unless you can do a perfect dovetail joint you just shouldn’t bother at all.  All I really want from a drawer is the ability of a box to slide out of a cabinet.  I can appreciate a lovely dovetail drawer and if you have that skill I am duly impressed.  But that does not make you better than me–it means you construct a drawer differently than I do.  Mine still works.

And just to be clear–I have run into some woodworkers with professional level skills who are encouraging and supportive to beginners and others.  I do not lump them all into the same category.  Clay Dowling immediately comes to mind–you’ll find him over at Ana’s site giving helpful advice in the forums and comments.

This is the comment that sent me to the “Add a new post” button on the blog.  I was recently mentioned in this Slate article and here is a comment made after the article:

WTF?

I just love these “You can build beautiful furniture too” stories, whether aimed at men or women.

When I was in college I could turn out a serviceable bookshelf/cabinet storage/wall unit thingie or a bed frame, but the workmanship was pathetic (kind of like the stuff pictured on Anna White’s website). I don’t do it for a living, so it took me years to turn out furniture that had near invisible joints, properly compensated for temperature and humidity changes, high quality finish etc. It took more years to learn to do work that occasionally wins prizes.

“Eventually…you will want an expensive compound miter saw, but to start, go with something less pricey” is probably the worst advice anyone could give. You don’t have to pay top dollar (and you can find amazing bargains at yard sales) but there is nothing more frustrating than shoddy tools. If you don’t have experience you don’t even know why you’re so frustrated.

“I think a jigsaw is less intimidating than the circular saw?” Ummm… maybe so, but jigsaws and circular saws are intended for different kinds of work. They’re not in any way interchangeable tools.

Ahhhh, wonderful commenter, I bow to your obvious superiority–you even win prizes for your skills (as I roll my eyes).  Some of us have to work with what we have and we aren’t in it to win prizes, and a jigsaw will in fact cut through wood quite well.  If you are going to build an entire house full of furniture it would not be ideal to do it with a jigsaw, but if you have one already and want to see if you might enjoy throwing some boards together to make something, by all means grow some thick skin, ignore this commenter, plug in your jigsaw and try it out!  If we all read this kind of drivel  and believed it, we wouldn’t ever try anything new.

None of my projects would win a single prize, but I love every one of them.  I’m proud of every one of them.  And I wouldn’t have built even one of them had I been around that commenter for more than 5 minutes.

He is right in one respect–quality tools do make a job more enjoyable.  I encourage you to invest in quality tools, but you can start out in woodworking without a lot of them.  You can see if you even like DIY without taking out a second mortgage (even the more affordable options for tools can add up) or spending your weekends scouring the yard sales.  You won’t win prizes, but you will get some things accomplished in your home.

Well, obviously my title is somewhat misleading…I DO care–I care that people who want to try their hand at home improvement projects might read comments, articles, forum posts, and the like from people like our commenter above and decide they can’t or shouldn’t.  If you care a lot about winning prizes for your projects, my blog is probably not for you.  If you don’t expect perfect and you’re willing to try something out, you are in the right place.

You need to have thick skin and be able to ignore people who need to feel superior.  You need to keep your reason for woodworking at the forefront–I want to finish up our house and to do it within a budget I can stomach, so I build the projects myself.  I kept in mind that I was a beginner in the beginning and tried to keep those projects in rooms that were off the main area.  As I improved, I moved to more visible parts of the house.

Reading comments like the one above fires me up, not because it affects me, but because it might affect someone else.  I truly could care less about opinions like that–I take what I can learn from the search I conducted (like the crown moulding tips) and discard the rest.  I truly hope you don’t care either.

What do you think of the comment?  Have you run into similar people while on the web?

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