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Neat or Shit

Updated: Nov 11, 2021

Neat! Is the way woodworking is described in magazines. That may be how some craftsmen work, but it isn't always how I experience the process in all the workshops I was in. In those magazines and youtube videos, things always fall into places, pieces fit together, measurements are accurate and reflected in the fine cuts, the finishing process is smooth and so satisfying to see.

In my shop, ironically, there’s a constant mess. At least one piece of wood cut short, usually the piece with the finest grain, the finishing a little thick, the shade of color a little dark, the glue dried so fast, instead of slicing wood, we slice our hand, instead of gluing joints we glued our fingers together ... Sometimes it required a little blood and a band-aid to get things right, in the meantime, sawdust is glittering and rolling in the deep of our hair, eyes, noses, ears even our mouth.

There are always moments of despair and euphoria in this work but magazines just show the highlights such as a designer in his 'Levi’s blue jeans built to last' and leather apron standing by his product, smiling with pride, with his dog on the unbelievable clean floor, in front of an over-organized tools wall of a shiny workspace flooded with light. While the actual scene should be a man in his worst piece of stained clothes, covered in sawdust, sitting in the middle of the greatest mess of his life, with his dog drowned somewhere in it, staring at his creation and feeling: gratified, tired, dirty. Then he reflects on his newborn baby: “Shit!”.

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