Sylva Spoon

Failure Is Always an Option

Thomas Bartlett1 Comment

Turn the volume up for this one.I love the sound this auger makes as it pulls its way though this maple log.Hopefully I won't drill out the side of this one.

Posted by Sylva Spoon on Sunday, 20 March 2016

So I broke another shrink pot. That'll be two for two on starting shrink pots, only to make a mistake and have them break. 

The first one, I wasn't concentrating on the angle of the auger bit and it came out the side of the pot. The second one I drilled it successfully but broke it when using the gouge. Both times were very frustrating. Not only had I invested a lot of time and effort into those pieces but messing up kills my mojo and can end up with me stepping away from making for a chunk of that day. 

I always spend that time away from work productively

I always spend that time away from work productively

But the thing that keeps me coming back for more is that I learn from each mistake. I haven't started the third shrink pot yet, but I'm pretty confident it won't break in the same way as the first two. It'll probably break in a completely different way. And that too will be okay. 

Screwing up stuff sucks. You feel a range of unhelpful negative emotions and you've got nothing to show for your efforts. But it's such a great thing too. It shows that you're pushing yourself. You're either trying something new, like me and the shrink pots, or you're trying on to improve on your current work, finding new limits for it. 

Here I was trying to use wood more efficiently, working with a smaller piece to start with. In order the get the bowl right I had to carve it quite thin. That would have been fine except I decided to do some axe work on the handle. As you can see, the bowl couldn't handle that kind of impact. Lesson learned. 

The work I do is fraught with risk. A break in concentration and you've irreparably damaged what you were working on, pick the wrong piece of wood and halfway through you find a rotten patch, grub hole or inconvenient knot. If you actually finish a piece, letting it dry to quickly can lead to it tearing itself apart. You don't even have to be there for that one!

But that just makes it all the sweeter when everything comes together and you produce great work. You learn to check for insect holes in the sapwood, you learn which bumps in the wood indicate a hidden knot, you experiment with thickness, drying locations and all the other factors until you find what works. Every failure along the way teaches you something new.

It also makes for some mighty fancy kindling. 

A video posted by Tom LB (@sylva_spoon) on