The Woodworker cover image for November 2015Welcome

We’ve all heard it, that announcement on the slowing train warning the unwary or novice traveller to ‘mind the gap between the carriage and the platform’. A few years ago I started to amuse myself by inserting the words ‘between your dreams and reality’ every time I heard it, and still do occasionally. Sure, it’s not easy to make your dreams come true, but we’ve got to give it a try or else what’s the use? Set your sights high is what I say, and aim for the moon.
Applying this philosophy to my woodworking life as well, I’ve found that it’s best to design exactly what you fancy, then worry about if it’s actually achievable later. When faced with some newly acquired materials, try to avoid the ‘what can I make with this?’ way of thinking. Instead, why not see if you can come up with an idea first and then worry about how to make it later. It definitely helps if someone else like your customer/intended recipient shows more than just a passing interest in your ideas, but don’t worry too much about it if they don’t; I guess it’s unlikely you’ll find many other people of exactly the same creative mind as yourself.

The reality gap

I’ve found that most things can be made as imagined, but sometimes the reality of the physical world canstubbornly refuse to cooperate with one’s enthusiastic and inspired visions. My latest furniture job has definitely fallen into that category; the concept and design were pretty keen, the drawings excellent and the customer’s reception very encouraging indeed. The workshop build went nicely enough – a couple of small changes but that’s to be expected, and I felt pretty confident as we pulled up in the van outside. Well, a couple of days into the installation and my plan for execution had started to look a little overambitious, to put it mildly.
A gap between my dream of a giant and elaborate wall unit and the reality of wonky walls, weighty boards and wobbly ladders had certainly started to open up, and I had to abandon my fiendishly clever and elegant plan for a more pragmatic approach. Fortunately – but not without some extra and unwanted work – we managed to get over the difficulties, but I wonder what I’ll learn from the experience? Probably not as much as I should do, but if nothing else it’s quite possible I’ll question myself a bit more closely, and maybe next time I’ll be able to keep the reality gap to an absolute minimum – or even make it disappear altogether…

Mark Cass, Editor