Ingenuity rules

Hardwood timber, ManokwariAre you ever amazed at human ingenuity? I have been staggered by it lately.

Thanks to my time of life, or some internal dormant desire, I have been spending far too much time watching Youtube videos. Given the endless topics that people are prepared to make videos about you could spend many a lifetime on this medium watching Russians do crazy things, animals being cute and a two year old dropping the f-bomb in the ice bucket challenge.

There are also a multitude of channels by random dudes [and the occasional chick] displaying the intricacies of dovetail joints, router tables and fast drying shellac.

Yes, it’s time to build your own wood shop. A place where a middle-aged man can retire to make things that nobody wants and often look crap but satisfies a curious urge to create.

Thanks to the interweb you don’t have to buy magazines or books to figure out how to cut a cove with a table saw. You can watch Matthias Wendel do it. He’ll even figure out and show you what you have to do to the saw blade to make the cut cleaner.

Even though the hours of instructional videos just the prelude to making a bedside table — as with most things action can be avoided if you see there is someone else already doing it — the instruction is not what has captivated me. It’s the problem solving skills.

Anyone who has worked at all with wood, or house renovations for that matter, knows there is a wrong way to do something and several right ways. It is possible to cut a board straight with a table saw, a circular saw, a compound mitre saw or any number of hand saws. Each will do the job given a level of skill.

These woodworking gurus are all about finding the next best way. They revel in the problem solving and in the engineering that takes. Why cut a tenon with a saw when you can do it with a panto-router, or much better, a home made panto-router?

So this is what they do. They find new ways of doing things.

They even admit when the new way has flaws and then post another video showing how they fixed them. It is actually refreshing and uplifting to watch.

It also explains how we came to be so successful a species. We really know how to fix things. In fact we can find 10 different fixes for any given challenge even of there is already one that works perfectly well.

We really did take tool use to the next level. It truly is amazing what you can do with a router.

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