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Working With Imperfect Tools

May 19, 2020

Like all writers and craftsmen, I strive for perfection. And at the same time I no it’s impossible. I recently built a cabinet as a Mother’s Day gift for my lovely wife.

I also built one a few weeks earlier.

The first cabinet I made, had at least a dozen mistakes or flaws. Some I worked around. Some I hid. A couple are visible. The cabinet is functional, of course. And there are parts of it that came out very nice.

I decided not to list the flaws here, because every custom made cabinet has some flaws. Some of the best advice I received on woodworking

All woodworkers make mistakes. The good ones figure it out before the glue dries.

It’s important to know when to say, “It’s complete.” BTW, it was the first cabinet I’d ever attempted to make. Most of my work in the past has been function over form. I built shelves for our store room.

I’ve repaired the cabinet floor under my sink. I did make a try at some book shelves that turned out not too bad.

For Christmas I decided to attempt some more delicate work and built hanging shelves.

But, it was the first time I’d built these style of bathroom cabinets. As I said the first one had over a dozen mistakes. The second one had fewer. My experience helped. I have at least one more planned that I hope will be even better.

I continue to strive for perfection, knowing I won’t be able to achieve it, but hoping I can get closer. As I was considering my various projects, I thought about my tools. I have quite a few tools; woodworking tools, of course, automotive tools, hand tools, power tools, pneumatic tools.

Some of the tools are new,

Any project, no matter how small is a good excuse to buy a new tool.

But, I also have some very old tools. Some that belonged to my father, and his father before him. These aren’t heirlooms. In fact, most of them are hard used.

A few are even slightly broken. And yet, I can take a broken tool, an imperfect tool and still attempt to use it to create perfection.

As my signature block pointes out, I have 13 children. I grew up without a lot of little kids around. I didn’t have any nieces or nephews until I got married. My lovely wife comes for a large family. I immediately inherited about 70 nieces and nephes aged from infants to older teenagers.

When I started to have children I was very nervous. I had no idea how to raise kids. Even know, as my oldest is in her 30s and I have grandchildren to spoil, I still don’t know much about raising kids.

As I looked back on my own childhood I could easily see the many areas that were “disfunctional.” My dear mother was married 5 times before I was 12 years old. My dear mother is an amazing women. She was married to my dad, her 5th husband for over 30 years until he passed away.

But, the fact is I didn’t want my children to have to experience some of the things I did growing up. Like all parents, including mine, I wanted my children to turn out better than I did. And it was my job to try to help them. To help them strive for perfection, knowing tey will never achieve it.

I’m the imperfect tool, trying to craft something closer to perfection, trying to pass down to my children the best parts of the things my parents passed down to me. Hoping, they in turn will take the best that I can give them and pass it on to the next generation.

And someday my children and grandchildren will use the tools in my garage to create their own projects. Constantly striving for perfection with the imperfect tools I hand down to them.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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