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Thread: What can I do to stay in the groove?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
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    Fairbanks AK
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    What can I do to stay in the groove?

    I am halfway through two weeks of staycation.

    Today, on my sabbath, I went to play in the shop. In 52 minutes I managed to bang out enough dovetails that it would have taken me eight hours to get done even a month ago.

    And it was fun. Before today, dovetailing was a grinding slog that was worth it because the product would last forever. Today it was fun. Every step, boom, boom, boom.

    Tomorrow I cut pins, a couple mortises, a couple stopped dadoes and take on my first half blind dovetails.

    I can see the next step for me to get faster at dovetailing will be to get the chisel placed for paring cuts one handed so I don't have to set the mallet down and pick it back up.

    How do I stay on this peak? What can I do with my remaining week of free time to make this new peak my new normal? I have Rush's _Hold your Fire_ cued up and I am itching to get back out there Monday morning. Patience has gotten me to here and I suspect exuberance is not the correct approach. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    I've been in a rut and thinking about this, actually, although some external stresses have been a major cause of that, without getting into details. Having one or more specific goals/needs which require focus can help for sure.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
    Just do it A LOT. Get yourself so you are confident cutting joints and not "sneaking up" on your fit. Get fast at layout and marking, sharpening etc. Those are areas where you can always improve efficiency. Then stay motivated, blast Rush and do it A LOT more. Simple but not easy

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Once you get there, you don't go back. It's become the new normal, although loss of time through inefficiency will get even better. It's called Experience, although few really understand what that means.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom M King View Post
    Once you get there, you don't go back. It's become the new normal, although loss of time through inefficiency will get even better. It's called Experience, although few really understand what that means.

    Experience and "muscle memory."

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Michiana
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    I was inspired by your post and did a little "skills maintenance" last night after work. I decided to make a small drawer, about 6 x 7 and 2 1/2" deep. I started by resawing a piece of 3/4 clear pine for the sides and back, hand planing to thickness, and shooting the ends square. Next I milled up a piece of 4/4 Cherry for the front and followed the same process. Dovetails were cut on both ends of the side boards. Layout took a little while as I've gotten rusty, but it's like riding a bike...a rusty bike. I need to practice more often. Thankfully I still remember how to saw to the line. Frequent stropping really made a difference in chisel cut quality. Tonight will be the pins on the back and the half blinds on the front. I suspect I'll groove the parts for the bottom panel on Wednesday and have it finished up by the weekend. At that point I'll need to design something for it to slide into. All in all it was a satisfying evening. Much better than staring at the tube.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2021
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    Spartanburg South Carolina
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    298
    I was practicing DT for a while but got distracted by some projects. This thread makes me want to get back to it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Lots of coffee, and heavy metal!
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    MA
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    Are you comfortable on your chosen methods? For example, for me, cutting large areas of waste still seems to take the most time (I still often use a palm router and 'route to the saw cut', or close). Sawing to a line seems the most critical (you could just practice sawing lines!) Paring is paring (chisel sharpness seems to be key). But getting rid of those large areas of waste...

    If you like your methods then practice them. Use good technique if burning it into muscle memory (I found the moxon vice helped me a lot, I can see the lines better when they are closer to my eye balls). And lighting (again an age thing). Work height, stance, marking, lighting, overall comfort if doing extended sessions... can all impact reproducibility/muscle memory. Careful of burning BAD habits into memory (a golf lesson - when you are hitting it pure keep hitting it. When its off - STOP - else you burn whatever bad habit into muscle memory. This is true of many things)

    Just some thoughts.
    Last edited by Carl Beckett; 01-04-2022 at 10:20 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Columbus, OH
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Winners View Post
    ...I can see the next step for me to get faster at dovetailing will be to get the chisel placed for paring cuts one handed so I don't have to set the mallet down and pick it back up.
    I've only done 1 DT project and results were mixed at best so I don't have much DT experience. But I have chopped and pared a lot of mortises. When I make my final paring cuts to finish out the sides of a mortise, I'm not using a mallet. It's all downward pressure on the chisel for that last slice. You need to have a sharp chisel for that cut so I do a quick tune up on the edge right before making those paring cuts. I haven't tried those cuts in super dense exotics but I've done it in ash and maple.

    Hope this helps.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Holcombe View Post
    Lots of coffee, and heavy metal!
    I can relate, not as much to the heavy metal, but using a steady supply of music and coffee as fuel to keep going. I like listening to certain podcasts but find that I have to save them for certain tasks that require less active and dynamic brain activity like sanding, finishing, cleaning up. Music that is at not completely unfamiliar is one of the best aids I’ve found for me to stay in the groove.
    Still waters run deep.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Holcombe View Post
    Lots of coffee, and heavy metal!
    That kind of idea generally does help for sure...
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
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    Seems to be working, thanks for your inputs. Today I was sure I needed to sharpen three of my eight bench planes, so I just did all of them. One step was to fasten a 2x2 under my my guideblock so I could clamp the guideblock in my vise and just get on with it instead of trying to hold the guideblock in one hand, the iron in one hand, the honing guide in my third hand and then tighten the guide with my left toes. Drill, countersink, find a scrap, cut that to length, screw it down, vise it up and move on. I am hammering giants this week on staycation.

    Given tomorrow is Epiphany, "13th day of Christmas", I will plan to rock out to Minniva co-appearing with Orion's Reign for at least the morning.

    My needles are not overloading and I am not resting at the side of the road. Hope all you all get this experience in 2022 also. I feel like I have earned it and I am trying to put roots in it. I am running a little hot and my calls might be a little early.

    Happy New Year everyone.

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