What are some of those New Year’s traditions that make the holiday so special? Champagne. Noisemakers. Watching the ball drop in Time’s Square. Kissing that special someone at midnight.
Yeah, the New Year is a magical time, when we close the book on the old year and start the new one fresh again. It’s the perfect time to dedicate yourself to doing something different.
Yes, to make resolutions.
New Year’s resolutions are usually a bunch of hooey. Don’t believe me? Here’s an experiment you can conduct. Find a local gym. Could be a commercial establishment, a city-owned facility or the local ‘Y’. Now, note how many people are there on – say – January 10th, working themselves into a lather. Those are the folks who resolved to drop that extra 20 pounds they packed on with the Halloween, Thanksgiving and holiday goodies.
Go back in March. A lot fewer folks feeling the burn, hmmm… Many folks just give up because their goal suddenly seems too far away to achieve.
The people who do stick with their resolutions are the ones who make realistic, achievable goals. Going someplace new. Adding a quick lunchtime walk to the routine. Heck, calling your parents a little more frequently.
As a woodworker, part of my ‘package’ of resolutions always includes a few items around the shop. Last year, I promised to myself that I would try bent laminations, and try I did. In fact, I should be posting something very soon about a project I’ve had in the shop for a while.
“Of course, the toughest part of coming up with new woodworking resolutions is actually coming up with them,” said Tim Walter of Eagle America. “That’s also what makes woodworking such a vibrant and exciting craft… there are just so many different aspects to explore.”
To help get the pump primed, Tim offered the following suggestions:
- Build those kitchen cabinets. With the current economic picture, people are tending to stay put longer in their homes. Why struggle with a terrible kitchen design when, for a small investment in tooling, you can build a set of custom cabinets that will outperform and outlast anything you can buy at a big-box home improvement center. “With a Kreg pocket screw jig, the boxes and face frames are easy, and we have many decorative options of stile and rail bits, panel raisers and door and table edge bits to build a kitchen to suit your taste. If you are building cabinets for an average kitchen and you work at the modest pace of building one cabinet box a week, you can plan on hosting a Fourth of July party at your place and proudly show off your handiwork.”
- Cut your first dovetails. Dovetails are still looked upon as the hallmark of craftsmanship. Learning how to cut the joint should be something you consider trying. “We often look at woodworkers who make flawless hand-cut dovetails with awe, but machine cut joinery is every bit as strong and just as beautiful. We offer both Porter Cable jigs and the Chestmate, so you can take your pick. Oh, and we also sell some very high quality bits for those jigs as well.”
- Cut better mortise and tenon joints. The mortise and tenon joint is one of the most important joints to master. It’s been around since the time of the Egyptians, and can be used for small and delicate projects as well as big, burly ones. “Sure, you can buy a hollow chisel mortiser or lay out money for a set of mortising chisels, but you may not realize that your plunge router can serve as an excellent mortising machine. Carbide up-cut spiral bits are ideal for this purpose, and router bushings can help make a mortising guide a snap to build.”
- Get your tools razor sharp. Many people just give up on hand tools after a while. No, it’s not their technique, it’s the fact that they are working with dull tools. Dull chisels require more force, can damage your work and are even more likely to hurt you than sharp ones. “We carry an extensive line of sharpening supplies for getting rough bevels ground and honing supplies to put that very fine cutting edge on the tools. The WorkSharp 3000 is a very popular sharpening system and makes honing easy even for a beginner.”
- Build a decorative box. Making small boxes is an excellent way to improve your skills without making a large investment in wood or tools. You can let your imagination run wild or go with timeless details in a more traditional form. And, they are a great way to use up those valuable bits of leftover wood just waiting for the right project. “Whatever designs you can think of, we can certainly help supply the tools. Decorative edge forming and box making bits, clamping and finishing supplies and a large number of books can help turn your vision into reality. We even sell musical movements so you can make your new box sing for a loved one.”
And, these are just some starting points. From there, the sky is truly the limit. How about building an instrument? Building a project to donate to charity? Going to a woodworking school? Heck, even starting your own woodworking blog!
One thing I have noticed as a blogger is that putting articles on Tom’s Workbench requires constant effort. I have to be thinking about six steps ahead in order to keep bringing you quality content. I have written articles in the last minute, and found most of those to be lesser quality ones.
That’s why my resolution is to continue to push myself to try new things and let you look over my shoulder while I do. Will everything I touch turn out OK? Of course not. But, in 2010, I hope to keep all of you as my constant companions on this journey.
Happy New Year, everyone, and I hope it’s a very healthy and happy one for us all.