Lack of the knack

Author:
Updated:
Original:

How good are you at doing something? Let’s find out.

There are three ways to judge the quality of how you do something:

• Have a natural talent for a skill from the start

• Have no natural talent for a skill, but through education and practice become good at it

• Have no ability whatsoever for something, no matter how much you try

The first is rare, but we all know someone who can just pick up a pencil and draw a perfect sketch without really even trying, or someone with such perfect spatial awareness that with a single glance at a room they can design a perfect décor. I have a couple innate talents, some related to woodworking, some not. I’ve just always had a knack for doing these things, and with use and practice over the years have gotten even better.

The second is extremely common; in fact, it’s the normal way we all learn. I’ve also accomplished a number of these, but like everyone else I have to use these skills regularly to stay good at them.

The third isn’t quite as common, but it’s unfortunate when a particular skill is a necessary part of what you want to do, either as a vocation or a desirable pursuit. Yeah, I have a couple of these, too.

I’ve mentioned hand-cutting dovetails before, and how I’m terrible at it. No matter how much I learn or practice, I’ll never be comfortable or proficient doing it. I can make acceptable dovetails, but it takes me 10 times longer than it does someone else. (It also takes lots of sanding and cosmetic attention, too.)

As I wrap up my new workshop, I reluctantly add drywall plastering to the list of things I’ll never be proficient at. It’s simpler than dovetails, but no matter how many years I’ve been doing it I just don’t have the knack. Sure, if I take long enough and do enough sanding, the final project will look almost professional.

But, like hand-cut dovetails, I could never do it without a lot of time, and even more sandpaper.

A.J.

Related Articles

New skillset

It’s amazing how you can go decades without doing something, and then suddenly find yourself doing it all the time.

AJBLOG-819 image

Faking it?

Have you ever been tasked with doing something you’ve never done before? If so, I’ll bet you did what I did: You faked it. Or, maybe not…

Measuring up

How do you measure things in your woodshop? Your results depend on how you do it.

Errant behavior

How do you deal with an error in a project? To my way of thinking, there are three things you can (try to) do.

A place for everything

How do you create a junk drawer? Trick question: You don’t.

According to my calculations

Measure twice; cut once. Good advice, but it leaves out an important part: Do the math.

Stealing ’em blind

I talked last year about how little attention the checkouts at Big Box stores pay to what they’re actually ringing up. In the earlier case, the guy paid no attention to the fact that I had two cabinets on a dolly, not one long one, and only charged me for one. I noted at the time that even though this was a small thing, it’s still indicative of issues affecting the economy. How can you possibly succeed when you’re letting free stuff go out the door?

Why didn’t I think of that?

It’s amazing how, after considering a woodshop problem for a long time, you find the solution was right in front of you all along.

(Not) feeling the heat – Part one

I gotta do something about the temperature of my shop.