The best way to practice woodworking skills is in a consequence free environment. When you practice this way, you remove all of the burdens that make the task more stressful. You will also grow quicker, because you have less worry. Here is how you do it.
Practice Woodworking Skills
While this works for projects that you have no intentions of selling, it can be a little bit stressful for projects that have a greater purpose.
Practicing on the go means that you have to make decisions about what you are capable of as you make the project. This inherently lowers the mark that you strive for in practicing.
A much better way to practice is by working on something that has absolutely no consequence to you. When the piece has no value that you are worried about ruining, you free yourself to take risks, try new things, and really learn a new talent. The trick is finding a way to make it consequence free, and then making that a part of your practice routine by…
Finding the Consequence Free Route When Practicing
I recommend that you always practice new skills in a consequence free manner. I also believe that you should renew your skills from time to time in the same way. Doing so keeps you prepared and ready for the real thing when the time comes.
You are going to have to figure out how to make your particular skill consequence free, but it’s pretty easy. If you are working on learning how to carve for example, making that consequence free is a simple matter of buying a less expensive piece of wood.
Also, you should not intend to sell, give away, or display the carving when you are done. It should be strictly carving on firewood and making shavings, nothing more. By contrast, if you were to buy a $500 piece of wood, and promise the President that you would have his likeness carved by the end of the day, you now have a lot to lose by making mistakes.
You can also read my Last 10% Principle for ways to keep yourself on track while practicing, which will kelp you make good decisions even when you are tired of the task.
I Learned How to Repair Furniture Consequence Free
I was trained to repair and re-finish furniture at one of the largest furniture stores in the United States of America. The training lasted for months, and not until the very end did we work on anything that was going to be sold to a customer.
In the beginning, the teacher would grab wooden chair legs from the spare parts area, and damage them on purpose. He would create different types of damage that we would see in the warehouse, and teach us how to repair them on the spare leg.
Once we were done the legs all went into the garbage, so we had nothing to worry about a customer getting a leg that any trainee repaired. For 40 hours a week, we all repaired damaged chair legs over and over again. It was very low stress, and we all learned the same techniques that we would later use to repair more expensive pieces.
The beauty of the process was that the finishes and colors on the wooden legs were the same as on an expensive piece of furniture. The difference was that the leg was free, and the dining table had value. The coloring and method of applying the coloring were the same though, so scaling up after the legs was no trouble at all.
More Ways to be Consequence Free
Another way to be consequence free in your woodworking practice is to never practice on anything that you intend to have value in the end. Never practice on something you would sell, show in your home, use for any purpose, or that has any value.
The lower the value of the piece, the easier it is to just hammer away and try new things. A piece that is valuable tends to restrict what you are willing to do to it. This restriction prevents growth, and slows your progress.
If you end up with something that you can put up on a “successful practice sessions” shelf, then feel free to do so. However, never start the process intending to make something that you can display.
Practice Woodworking Wrap-Up
Practicing is all about giving yourself the best environment to be successful. It should always be true practice, that you have no intentions of using for any other purpose. Set the stage for yourself well, and you will learn much quicker.
Make sure to set aside some time to practice. So many of us are busy that we tend to forget about making time for practice. As you work these small sessions into your process, you will be amazed at how much better your other woodworking skills improve too.
It’s incredible how making time for something like practice can elevate other areas of your woodworking. The practice is not wasted time, and you will start seeing things take less time very soon after starting. Give yourself the best environment, and you will learn the most you can from your practice. Happy building.
Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks
While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.
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