Thursday, February 7, 2013

Forget The Fear!

Get Woodworking Week 2013 - Tom's Workbench

Paralysis by analysis, fear of failure and cost of repairing mistakes are often used to describe the inability to initiate or follow through on a project. I am plagued with each and every one of these issues on nearly every project I attempt.

My friends and family say I am overly anal about the details and that I am too much of a perfectionist, which I openly admit to the latter. Not that I actually think I can achieve perfection, but more that I worry so much about not even coming close. I tend to sweat and sweat over minor things until a lack of patience overcomes rigor mortis, which usually results in even more mistakes and problems as I tend to rush just to get things done.

Fear of failure creeps in the mind when considering the use of new techniques, new tools or even new materials. Thoughts range from what if I mess the whole project up, lose grain continuity, break/chip/bend this new blade, to any number of possible earth shaking catastrophes. Again I realize the concerns are usually proven to be unfounded, but they still seem to find their way into every project at some level.

Lastly is the concern of escalating costs and ruining perfectly good materials in the pursuit of woodworking nirvana. Personally I find myself nearer to the national poverty level than to the financially solvent side of the ledger. While I am by no means seeking sympathy, it is what drives most of these concerns. When I purchase material to complete a project I need to maximize the ROI and complete the project with as little cost overrun as possible. Number one it is common sense to want to be successful in budgeting a project and secondly my wife is actually quite the accurate marksman, marksperson or markswoman (you choose). This cost consciousness carries over into purchasing of tools, as I tend to excessively review and analyze everything I purchase for the shop. On the plus side I am typically happy with what I acquire; not including the table saw, which was purchased early in my woodworking enlightenment journey.

Bottom-line, I think a lot of people experience these same issues at varying levels throughout their journey and we all learn to overcome them on our own terms. Woodworking is not a simple skill for most of us to learn and trepidation is only a natural part of the experience. This year I am focusing on overcoming these limitations and developing skills to reduce their impact on my projects. I encourage everyone during this “Get Woodworking Week 2013” to push through the thoughts and fears of something that limits their experience and savor the victory.

Until my next post:



  1. The fear of messing up wasting materials has kept me from building a lot things I want to build. I've been making smaller projects which has help me learn to fix any mistakes I made. I will starting soon on a large entertainment center which will be my biggest project yet. The biggest thing is just to get out there and start trying.

    1. Exactly Chuck!!! While it is always difficult to step towards the unknown taking that first step is the only way to enlightenment, knowledge and experience. Every moment wasted in fear and doubt is forever unrecoverable.

      Putting off the first steps of a journey only affects the total distance traveled at the end of the trip.

      So, "Get Woodworking"!!!