Ok, so the title is a bit gross, but I hope to illustrate a point (oh no, another lecture!). I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”. It’s message is timely, and can be applied to so many things. Of course, in this context I am referring to woodworking.
About six months ago I took a part time job at our local Woodcraft store. Talk about woodworking Nirvana! I have to admit that I have been working mostly for free, since the majority of my paychecks tend to go right back into the store for wood and tools. I mean, it’s like a kid working in a candy store. But, I digress…
One of the things I get to do is to sit in on any of the classes the store sponsors that I want to. There are some excellent instructors to take advantage of, and I love to add to my knowledge. Two weeks ago, we hosted a guest instructor from out of town, a fairly well known entity that I will not identify out of fairness to them.
Getting back to my original quote. I have noticed over the years that there are many different ways to accomplish the same task, be it with power or hand tools. And I have also discovered that the only “right” way, is the way that works for you. As long as it works for you, it’s gold. But when I come across someone who says that their way is the best way, or the only way, I can’t help but cringe. I would hope that none of us is so self absorbed to believe that we are the end all be all of woodworking, and that methods used for centuries are wrong because ours is patently better. Progress and technology have given us better tools… harder steel, finer sharpening stones, finer toothed saws, etc. But these things don’t make us better woodworkers. It’s our talents, our drive, and our dedication to practice that makes us better. Using a finer grit sharpening plate is just another way to skin the cat.
Keep it humble!