Small, Quick Projects vs. Bigger, Long-Term Commitments: Which Wins?

In last issue’s eZine, Rob noted that his woodworking projects have become smaller, with shorter timeframes. He wondered what others’ experiences were. From the responses we received, it seems he’s not alone. – Editor

“Since retirement, my projects have also downsized. I took up woodcarving, woodburning and wooden model making. Problem now is what to do with all the carvings, etc. Hope to downsize our home soon and shop will shrink from 800 square feet to about 200.” – John van Veen

“I tend to get distracted from larger projects mainly because I have so much going on. The motorcycle needs work, spring yardwork, a magazine article I’m trying to write, yah know – stuff.  Then ideas come into my head and that distracts me thinking about it when I’m doing something else.  And then there is the tedium that sometimes creeps in on the larger project.  I wish I was one of those people who see a project to the end before moving on.  Sadly, I am not.  I have a list of ideas, promised work and pipe dreams to last me to the end of my days.  Excuse me.  I have to go.  There’s a squirrel in the birdfeeder.” – Lee Ohmart

“I have people request larger projects, but I opt for the smaller ones for several reasons. Number one) I do not have the room for a large hope chest so I either send them to one of my woodworking friends who does larger projects or I tell them the largest box I will build and allow them the option to have the smaller box or going to a friend who builds larger projects. Number two) I just do not care to tie that much money up in a larger project even if the people are paying me for my work aswell as the wood I put into the project they want.  And number three) I have set up my shop and built my clamp stash and tools around the smaller projects.  I do have a 10″ table saw, a 15″ planer, and a 17″ band saw to complement my 13″ band saw, but I use them all on the smaller projects. Time is really not a consideration as I may turn a peppermill in one day but the glue-up and finishing take a week or so due to the deep finish I put on my peppermills.  Even my rectangular boxes and band saw boxes have a deep finish on them.  We know how a poor finish can make a great project into a so-so project, so I try for the best finish possible, and that takes time.” – Charles Buster

For some, however, the smaller/shorter timeframe projects are not necessarily due to a conscious choice, but to circumstances out of the woodworker’s control. – Editor

“’Short attention span?’ Not purposely! I still have a lot of energy, and ambition. I know all the projects I want to do, and ‘how’ to do them. It’s just, my ability has diminished, about 50 percent, due to a loss of my lower right leg. The loss, comes from my lifestyle, and previous military involvement.

“ Weird, though, that it has taken this long, 51 years, to creep up on me! Being over 68 or 69 years old, is not a good time to lose a leg! Too hard to learn how to walk again! And? No diapers for a cushion, to fall on! When the leg came off, (March 2014, and more taken off, April 2014), the VA asked me what I expected to achieve and do with a prosthetic?I  said, ‘Everything I did, when I had two feet/legs!’ Well? With a prosthetic leg and foot, that, sounds easy to do! Not quite!
I’m still, manual wheelchair bound, in and around my house, shop and yard. Even with a prosthetic? It isn’t, really, easy as it may seem!

Although I do feel a little safer, using my 10″ full-size table saw, and my 10″ compound miter saw, standing on two feet, instead of one foot!  Getting to my wood projects, again, has taken time. I do a little here, a little there, etc. Losing my leg turned my whole world, upside down! Everything takes twice as long, and sometimes longer, to accomplish. This is where procrastination steps in! Someday!” – Robert. Clausen

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