Skip to main content

Expertly speaking

  • Author:
  • Updated:

I got a nice compliment this week from someone impressed with my expertise. Don’t know if it was warranted, but it sure felt great.

I don’t consider myself an expert on many things. Civil War history or Star Trek trivia, sure, but when it comes to woodworking I ain’t no expert. On the other hand I do woodworking daily, and have done so for decades, so I know a lot. But an expert? No.

At the local Big Box on Monday I was buying furring strips to install a tile ceiling in part of the basement. Also buying some was another guy who seemed a bit lost.

As I was loading furring strips up by the bundle, he was carefully picking out nice ones, and lamented to me how bent and splintery they were. I agreed, but admitted that that was generally the nature of furring strips and it’s not a big deal considering that you rarely see them in finished work anyway.

He immediately took this as a sign I knew a lot about them, and started asking questions. Turned out that what he really wanted was some decent 1x2 lumber for a small project, but had no idea there were different kinds. All he knew was that the furring strips kind of looked like what he wanted.

I walked him over to the dimensional lumber and showed him the regular pine 1x2s, as well as the clear and “premium” stuff and explained the difference, and also pointed out the same thing in the poplar and oak racks. He never did say what his project was, but it turned out that three 8’ lengths of clear 1x2 were perfect for what he wanted to do.

He thanked me and added that he wished more experts like me worked at these places, and headed to the checkout.

To my thinking, I’m not an expert. But in his eyes, I was.

And that made me feel pretty darn good all week long.

Related Articles

AJBLOG-1020 image

And speaking of firsts…

“There’s always a first time” is one of those old sayings that applies to everything, especially woodworking.

Everybody’s a woodworker

I bumped into a woodworker last week. How did I know? Well, he was making something out of wood, and for me that’s the only proof I needed.

AJBLOG-820 image

A doctored tool

I’ve written a lot about how the world of medicine (and dentistry) overlaps with woodworking. I found another great example this week.

Toys “R” Me

I’ve always thought of my woodshop as my personal play space, but it never occurred to me that it might be the same thing to someone else.


I’m not sentimental about anniversaries, but this Thanksgiving week – and on the occasion of my 800th Woodshop News blog – I suppose there’s an exception to everything.

All charged up

I’m a pretty handy guy, but I don’t know anything about electricity.