It’s an interesting feeling completing the last project that’s part of a series. Not sure how it works for you, but for me the last project is always a reflection on the first.
I’ve just wrapped up the last project chapter for a book of 19th-century reproduction items, and because of book scheduling and a variety of other factors, the 15 projects it contains were spread out over a long period of time. During that time I wrote two other books (containing a total of nearly 50 projects), several dozen magazine articles and a couple hundred blogs. This amount of time allows me, when looking through the folder for the book on my Mac, to make comparisons from beginning to end. I’m guessing you do something similar – there’s really not much difference in completing a series of projects for a book or a series of custom items for any other customer.
For one thing, I’ve learned not only a lot about woodworking photography over the course of the book, but Photoshop as well. It’s clear that I’ve gotten much, much better at doing mortise-and-tenon joints and box joints. Because the book was an ongoing project that had to take place while also doing other work, of necessity I improved my shop workflow tremendously. I’ve reorganized machinery, table workspace and storage all for the better. Seven of the projects involved the lathe, and although woodturning was one of the first things that attracted me to woodworking all the way back in high school, I’ve found a new appreciation for it and learned some techniques specifically because projects in the book required them – techniques I’m now enjoying so much that I’ve since done projects for myself just to use them.
And last, going over the entire book’s projects in preparation for delivering everything to my publisher gives me a chance to re-live the projects themselves, some of which I enjoyed tremendously. If I ever have more time to do more projects just for myself, I’d like to do a couple of those again.
No time, though. I’m already at work on the next book. And, as always, I’m way behind.