It’s hard to recognize your own progress over a short period of time. But if you wind up able to see a comparison over a longer stretch, it can feel pretty significant.

I’ve been making an older chair design this week; one that dates back about 20 years. I still like the design, although eventually I’d like to devote some time to updating it. Right now, I’m just making some subtle changes to both construction and design as I proceed. This chair used to be one I considered really difficult to do. Not any more. Later designs have called for greater mastery of many more challenging techniques. And so this is a refreshing change.

'Stained Glass' Chair

'Stained Glass' Chair

That’s one of the big advantages of always pushing forward, and not staying too comfortable in your work. Taking on new challenges adds to your level of experience, your skill-set, and your confidence.  If, on the other hand, you always stay comfortably within your capabilities, you’ll simply remain wherever you are.

Next project, find (or design) something you don’t quite know how to do, then figure out how to do it. Seek out help if you need it. But push yourself. You might have trouble (I certainly have). You might even mess things up the first time. But you’ll learn. And you’ll be a much better woodworker because of it.

Jeff Miller