5 Practices of Effective Woodworkers

It can be easy for any craftsmen to become lackadaisical and disorganized in the shop. Maintaining good habits and consistent practices can help craftsmen use their time more effectively and maximize their productivity. Being more efficient in the shop will result in more successful projects and more satisfied craftsmen. Here are five simple practices that will help you optimize your action in the shop. First things first:

1. Maintain Your Tools and Accessories: No craftsmen loves sharpening, calibrating, and cleaning his machines and tools. Just like cleaning the rain gutters or organizing the garage, power tool maintenance can sometimes be glossed over. In all reality, however, tool maintenance is one of the most important steps to having a successful wood-shop and positive work experience. Keep your bits and blades sharp and clean, and remember to check the setup and accuracy of your machines. Make sure your power tools are clean and running properly, and be sure to periodically check any power cords on your tools and throughout the shop. Power cords can be a significant safety hazard, so know where they are as you work and replace them should they incur any damage, breaks, or cuts. Tools that are improperly cared for will impede your productivity, and will generally deliver sub-par results. Ultimately, though it may be a headache to maintain your shop gear, it will save a hundred headaches in the future.

2. Keep Your Tools and Workspace Organized: Designate a place for each of your tools and accessories throughout the shop. Ideally this space should be near the place the tool or machine is most likely to be used. Always return power tools to their cases and put them back in their appropriate places. keeping your shop straight and clutter free, this will also keep your power tools organized and out of danger. Additionally, aprons aren’t just for the kitchen; using a good shop apron is like having an extra hand to hang on to the things you use (and lose) most often. Knowing where your pencil, ruler, square, knife, or measuring tape is can save you a lot of time. Keeping your shop organized is crucial to a safe, effective and successful woodworking session.

3. Organize and Outline Your Projects: Before you start into your projects it’s important to have a detailed plan of action. Draft an outline with intricate details, measurements, and cut-lists. Think through your project up to the very last touch to ensure there are no surprises, no steps forgotten, and the fewest mistakes possible. Because, however, mistakes are inevitable, it’s wise to be prepared for them as well. One can still be a perfectionist and also acknowledging that human error is unavoidable. Craftsmen might mill stock for practice pieces, or have extra parts or materials on hand to help alleviate the frustration of error. Being entirely prepared for your project will make it that much more fluid and satisfying to complete.

4. Compose Yourself and Take it Slow: Rushing your jobs or projects will always result in avoidable and annoying mistakes. Remain focused as you work and entirely concentrated on the task at hand. Working carefully and calmly will yield more desirable and more professional results; you may also finish your project faster for being so organized and composed as you work. Try to avoid working while stressed or frustrated, this can also lead to very avoidable errors or personal harm. If it becomes too difficult to concentrate on your project – walk away. Allow your thoughts to clear and come back to your project when you can focus. Remember, it’s one thing to work fast, and another to work rushed or frustrated; both will end with imperfect results, and a far less than perfect working experience.

5. Take Notes: Keeping notes of your progress as you work can help you remember the crucial details you might otherwise forget after hanging up your apron for the night. Keep notes of any changes or modifications you make to your project, and perhaps even remind yourself where you left off. Documenting your thoughts and progress will help you complete all of your steps, and save you time when you return to a project.

Remember to always be cautious as you work in the shop, and to treat your tools with care and respect. Practicing these five habits in your shop will maximize your productivity, keep your tools and workspace efficient, and enhance your overall workshop experience.