Mindfulness and the workshop

Circle around various corporate entities, and you’ll find the term “Mindfulness” cropping up more and more, as the latest trend takes increasing hold.

Now I say that in somewhat irreverent terms, but without any real intent.

I am not really on strong terms with mindfulness yet, there are many long courses all about it, but what strikes me early, is this concept of being in the moment.

Many of us drive to work each day, and yet can’t remember how we actually got there. We are walking around the house, put down our keys, and cannot remember for the life of us where they are a little later on.

These (and many others) are perfect examples of taking actions without being mindful.  Being in the moment, actually tasting the food we are eating, focusing on the activity, being particularly aware of what we are doing, not just going through the motions without concentration, without being mindful.

It got me thinking about the shed.  Some of what we do out there is without real thought – cleaning up for example, yet daydreaming (or just not concentrating).  Yet a lot of what we do, especially while working in the shed had better be very mindful, or you might find yourself fingerless, or worse.

To turn that around, I find that the shed activities really do focus the mind.  You cannot have random thoughts bubble up and become a distraction, and the activities really allow you to concentrate intensely on the task at hand.  It is like a form of meditation, and why I find I feel really refreshed after a good session out in the workshop.  Better than sitting around with your eyes closed, focusing on breathing and saying “Om”!

When I am shaping wood, solving design questions, cutting, planing, joining, gluing, polishing, there is no room for abstract thoughts, distracting thoughts, and problems at work and other stressors do not get a look in.

That is not always the case unfortunately. When having an unsuccessful day, it either allows an opportunity for these external pressures to creep in, or it is because those external pressures have been there all along, and not shut down enough to allow a successful day.

The next time I am having a bit of a bad shed day, I’m going to focus a bit more on why – am I being distracted by thoughts, or just me having a bad woodworking day.  Of course, like the golf saying goes, a bad day in the shed is still better than the best day at work!

The Karate Kid of Sharpening Systems

wax on wax offWax on, Wax off

There are so many sharpening systems out there, it can be rather daunting.  Powered or unpowered, hollow grind or flat, single bevel or secondary micro-bevel, oil, water or dry, friable or fixed surface, open or closed grit, wax on or wax off.

I’ve come across another system recently, which has an interesting take on the process.  It is the Precision Sharpening System from M Power.

PSS1-Diamond-Cross-precision-Sharpening-System

It is based on diamond stones, and has two fixed angles 25° as a primary angle, and 30° as a secondary angle (such as for a microbevel).  The stones are exceptionally easy to change, held in place magnetically.  There are grits from 100 through to 1000 available (with the unit coming with a 220 grit and a 450 grit stone).

Where the system is somewhat different, is the direction of sharpening.  Most systems have the grinding direction in line with the chisel, where the PSS works perpendicular to the blade.  Secondly, most systems have the stone (grinding surface) stationary, and the blade is bought into contact and moved against the abrasive.  The PSS has the tool stationary, and instead the stone is bought to the tool, back and forth, creating a flat grind.

PSS1-Sharpen-small-chisel-484It is an interesting grinding direction.  Takes a little getting used to, but I can’t see that there is any particular disadvantage to the resulting tool edge.

The carriage is captive in the base, but has a bit of movement, which allows the sharpening surface to float fully on the tool. You can then apply as little or as much pressure as you like or need.

The body of the sharpener is best secured down, and there is a hole and screw made available for just that.

PSS1-Diamond-Cross-484

The system has a particular distinct advantage – speed of setup.  There is no jig that needs to be set up, or clamped to the blade.  The tool is placed on the flat bed, held against the lip at the side to keep it perpendicular to the sharpening stone, and a few swipes and you are done.

Remove the stone carriage, flick it around and a few swipes for a micro-bevel.  Change stones in seconds to move between grades.  It will not take every type of blade, but anything straight, such as a chisel or plane blade up to 2.5″ wide is no problem (3mm to 64mm).  The ease of setup and repeatability means regular, quick touchups are no problem, and you may find you use it more regularly given the ease of use.  With the result being continually, satisfyingly, sharp blades.

Available (in Oz) from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.

 

 

Lessons

Thought I’d achieve more over the weekend, but success was more elusive than I would have hoped.

We have plenty of these days – things not working out as well as you’d like.  But does that mean they didn’t work out as well as they could reasonably be expected to?  Probably not.  If everything worked out perfectly every time, we wouldn’t learn much, nor be able to judge our progress over time.

Perhaps it means the expectations and aspirations are getting ahead of experience, so failures are more of a surprise than they should be.  Or it could be seen that what is being attempted is closer to the edge of knowledge, so failure is always an option.

So what was the real outcome from the weekend?  I got to make some things, some worked, some didn’t.  But more importantly, did I learn something?  Did I extend my capabilities?  I think so, so long as I remember the lessons!

I was making some extra coin trays for my storage unit on the CNC.  Never calculate tired!  I made a few errors, which meant that I needed to remount some of the trays made to increase hole diameter.  This kind of worked, but two of the trays got damaged in the process through silly, or strange errors.

I am really not convinced that Windows is a good platform for tool control.  When it needs updating, things go haywire in the control software.  I really wish there was a Mac equivalent to Vectric.  And a Mac version of Mach3.

I also did a bit of work finishing off a wall in the house which I made last weekend.  On the plastering stage – not a skill I have had a lot of experience with (which is a bit obvious).  Few layers, some sanding, and a layer or two of paint should disguise any incompetence! (Hopefully).

As much as we’d like to be an expert at everything (and I am always particularly hard on myself to achieve perfection), I really need to take a step back and accept that an adequate or reasonable job is more than good enough.  And failure is not only always an option, but it is to be expected.  The trick is how to recover from it – either by coming up with a way of modifying or disguising, or in some cases just accepting that a remake is just how it needs to be.

So long as we are still having fun!

Tokunaga Furniture and The Art of Wood Working Without Sandpaper | Spoon & Tamago

Tokunaga Furniture and The Art of Wood Working Without Sandpaper

An interesting article, particularly the difference in microscopic view of a piece of timber that is planed vs one that is sanded.

Turns

Been a while coming

but the latest ManSpace is finally in my hands, hot off the press.

  
The 15th issue, and the first one for 2015.  Coming to a newsagent near you.

There’s something strange in your neighborhood 

A ghost of tool-brands past.

The reappearance of the Triton brand, in a Masters near you!

A few product lines initially, but apparently set to expand.

   
   

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