Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Zen State of Mind

Sometimes the only thing standing in the way of a problem and its solution is a good night's sleep. I've often had trouble understanding certain concepts or problems and have woken up the next day to readily understand and solve them. Nothing has changed except perhaps your brain is more engaged or you've digested all the different views, but you feel sharp and focused and everything falls into place.

Woodworking is a lot like that, especially working with hand tools. Combining your focused mind with your hands allows you to enter into a zen state of mind.
Since I don't have any woodworking projects in progress, I've been practicing joinery. But earlier this week, I was practicing cutting tenons by hand in a spare hour before work with horrible results. To be fair, a 700mm length bowsaw with 9 tpi web is quite a bit larger and coarser than all but the absolute largest tenon saws. My saw drifted left and right and back and forward and produced tenons that looked like they'd been cut with a woodchipper. I was convinced the problem wasn't with me, but it was with the saw that had to have been dull.

Today I sharpened most of my saws and was putting off sharpening my bowsaw with the joinery web in it. I paused for a moment and figured that I would try cutting another tenon to see just how dull the saw was. But I cut a perfect tenon with no problem.
The only thing that changed is that I was focused on cutting the tenon instead of getting ready for work
I often experienced this problem with guitar playing when I was beginning. But once I actually started setting time aside in my day to practice, I was able to focus and get better. All the little things that I would have to obsess over became second nature so that I could focus on what the song was supposed to sound like.
The same thing's happening with woodworking; nothing's changing, I'm just entering into a zen state of mind.
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