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Cooking up a project

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It’s amazing just how many similarities there are between cooking and woodworking. Same for the kitchen and the workshop.

I’ve mentioned here before how much I like to cook, and how I consider the kitchen to be my second workshop. But for those of you who don’t cook, you may not be aware just how close the two are.

Both require tools – the chief similarity being those that cut and slice. In my workshop you’ll find sharp-toothed saws, and in the kitchen serrated knives; both do the same job. Paints, varnishes and finishing brushes live in a cabinet in the shop; sauces, glazes and basting brushes reside in a cabinet by my stove. I’ve got pipe and bar clamps in the shop; in my kitchen there’s a lemon squeezer and a garlic press. Some tools aren’t similar at all, but do the same thing – my planer makes workpieces the right thickness, while I do the same thing in the kitchen with rolling pin and meat mallet. Some of the tools have names that are comparable: My shop has a biscuit joiner, my kitchen a biscuit cutter.

The workspaces are nearly the same. One has cabinets, benches and assembly tables; the other has cabinets, countertops and cutting boards. In the middle of a project my shop gets cluttered, small scraps end up on the floor (where the cats play with them), and sawdust gets on all the surfaces. In the middle of cooking my kitchen gets cluttered, small scraps end up on the floor (where the cats eat them), and flour gets on all the surfaces. When a project is finished I have to clean the shop; with dinner done, there’s always the dishes.

My shop has dozens and dozens of books, containing plans that number in the hundreds. My kitchen has dozens and dozens of books, containing recipes that number in the hundreds. I treat both book collections pretty much the same: I dig through them looking for ideas, but ultimately ignore the text and directions, and set about working in my own way using little more than the main photo as my inspiration.

The main similarity between the two is how much I enjoy working at each. And it should almost go without saying that with both pursuits, the real test of how good a job I’ve done is when I present the results of my work to someone else. Only the sounds are different: If it comes from the shop, oohs and aahs are preferred; if it comes from my kitchen, a hearty burp is acceptable.

Till next time,


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