Flick through some of the more popular woodworking and furniture making accounts on social media, and you might imagine that once you get to a certain level, mistakes become a thing of the past. It’s a bit like gazing into a hallowed vision of woodworking Nirvana. The gleaming, high-end box-fresh tools, evidently honed to a wicked sharpness through hours of diligence at the wet stones, sit on spotless bench tops, perhaps with a curled up shaving or two to suggest actual work. The pieces they sit by are all seamless joints and immaculately polished surfaces made from the finest, most richly grained timbers around. Imperfection is not mentioned. It doesn’t exist.
It’s ok to be crap at woodworking. It’s ok to be bad at anything that you enjoy doing. If you compare your football skills to Cristiano Ronaldo then you’ll soon be ditching the Sunday afternoon kick-about in the park. You do it because you have fun doing it.
You don’t have to compare your work with that level of skill. That kind of thing is for those with a lot of time, money, a good camera and a grasp of PhotoShop. Remember that social media can often distort the real world and what you see up on Instagram isn’t always what you get in reality.
You’ll improve. With enough practice, you’ll be amazed with what you can achieve, but don’t get disheartened by your failures in the here and now. Each one stands for an honest lapse in thought, an easy miss-judgement or just plain old incompetence – things we’ve all been through at one point or another, and simply way points on the road to better things. And even when you do improve, mistakes keep on happening. It’s often said that the mark of a good craftsperson is how well they can fix their mistakes!