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Monday, August 24, 2009

Woodworking and golf?

I was reading a recent set of posts on about some trouble a guy was having with a varnish finish. He built a beautiful bubinga veneered coffee table, but hit some major snags applying the finish. Having recently completed an 8-step mahogany finish, I completely felt this guys pain. I doubt I'm alone in this, but I really enjoy all aspects of woodworking from picking my stock, laying out, dimensioning the lumber, cutting the joinery, and even final planing and scraping. But when it comes to finishing, I would be perfectly happy to outsource to a finish shop if I knew one that would do small projects. I have to assume most of us got into woodworking to make dust, not to spend copious mind-numbing hours sweating under respirator, fighting with latex gloves an making a general mess of oneself. And many times the finish can take just as long as the construction, which can be quite frustrating.

It then occurred to me that two of my hobbies share this same challenge. My golf buddies can attest that I'm constantly proclaiming that putting shouldn't even be part of the game (can't we just get on the green an move on to the next hole?). After all, I don't know many people that got into the game because they loved putting so much, and frankly the skills of hitting a golf ball 250 yards translate about 0% to putting. The parallel here is that you spend almost as many strokes putting in golf as you do whacking the ball 5,000+ yards around the course. I suppose I'll have to be a grownup here and refrain from picking my golf ball up as soon as I chip on. And it's probably not smart to leave the finish step off my next woodworking project. But it won't stop me from complaining about either. So I'd love to hear some opinions - do you enjoy finishing or would you gladly outsource it if you could? I'll check back in as soon as I get back from the practice green.


Derek said...

I hate to admit it, but I have to agree with you. I just started woodworking about 2-3 years ago, and I feel that my skills are progressing at a decent rate, except when it comes to finishing. I constantly feel like I'm going strong from design through assembly, but run out of steam when I get to the finishing step. I'm trying to become more patient, and read about a lot of different finishing techniques so I can get better. Maybe one day I'll learn to enjoy that aspect more. I've enjoyed reading your blog. Keep it up!

Rob Bois said...

The real kicker is that nobody ever notices a good finish, they only notice a bad one. Have you ever shown someone one of your pieces and gotten comments on the finish? No, it's always "I really like the shape of the legs", or even worse "wow, I love the hardware you picked".