Selective affection

I don’t like to carve. But wait, carving is woodworking and I love woodworking, so I should like carving, right?

I’m amazed at carving and carvers. From the carving done by woodworking friends right on up to the incredible can’t-believe-it-isn’t-real work of Grinling Gibbons, I’m struck totally in awe at this ability. I’m not very good at it. And because I don’t much enjoy doing it, it’s not likely that I’ll get better at it any time soon. Even something as tangentially related to carving as chiseling out hinge mortises is much higher on my woodworking “chore” list than sanding and other typically hated shop tasks. But if I profess to love woodworking, which I do, shouldn’t I love all forms of woodworking?

But wait; let’s consider this analogy. I love to cook, and often spend as much time in the kitchen (which I frequently describe as “my other workshop”) as in my woodshop. But baking doesn’t really appeal to me much. I don’t mean using the oven; I love the oven and use it constantly. I make roasts and casseroles, pizza and broiled tilapia. But as much as I enjoy eating cookies, I don’t bake them. Pies and cakes, same thing.

And in spite of the fact that I don’t bake much, no one would dispute that I love to cook and that I’m darned good at it. (Certainly not the other person who lives in my house.) Further, I have no problem considering myself an accomplished cook and master of the kitchen, even though I dislike baking enough that I rarely ever do it. So why do I feel differently about my woodworking? I have no idea.

Like other professions and pursuits, woodworkers specialize. But they’re often still expected to be experts in – and lovers of – all aspects of woodworking. Well, I’m not.

But when it comes to the bottom line, I’ve decided to try to not to let it bother me. I like to do what I like to do, and I’m proud of the skill I’ve developed in doing what I like. There are not a lot of pursuits where you can say that.

A.J.

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