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Art thief

Hey, I can’t think of everything. That’s why I steal great woodworking ideas wherever I can.

People always ask me where I get the ideas for projects. Naturally, I’m quick to tell them that I’m incredibly creative and have thousands of fantastic ideas for beautiful things to make. (At the same time, I usually also tell them how modest I am.)

I do have great ideas from time to time, but the truth is that I grab ideas wherever I can find them – books, museum displays, magazines and, frequently, I just outright steal them from other woodworkers. Here’s an example:

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I got the idea for that glass-lidded box while at a Christmas arts and crafts show my wife dragged me to. At the time, necklace beads were all the rage and one of the vendors had a few boxes he’d made specifically for beads. Of course, Sally wanted me to make her one.

Surreptitiously snapping a quick photo, I later studied the picture and refined what I wanted to do. And here’s the thing – unless it’s a reproduction of a vintage piece, I rarely create an exact copy of anything. In the case of that box above, the only thing I kept was the clear glass lid and the idea of using metal rods to hang necklace beads.

My version has different joinery and bottom detail, completely different hinge arrangement, a lower profile, and my own take on the overall design. A few years later I even did away with the clear glass. The net sum of what remained of the stolen idea? A lidded box with metal rods.

So, yeah, if I see an idea of yours that I like, I’m gonna steal it. But rest assured that my version will end up being so different that you likely won’t even recognize it.

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There’s such a thing as “Too Much Information.” Right now, though, I’m experiencing a different kind of TMI: Too Many Ideas.