Why I build things from wood…
I’ve always loved wood. The feel. The smell. The way it makes me feel when I work with it.
It’s something almost primal, like a connection to the rest of the planet – not in a tree hugging kind of way, just a connection that brings me into focus with what’s around me. Keeps my mind calm and my thoughts clearer than when I’m running around in my day job or out shopping.
I love the fact that my work will be enjoyed by people, most of whom I’ve never met, nor will I. But it’s gone to a good home where it’s appreciated and cared for. Somewhere in a house that I’ve never seen or been to there is a small candle holder that started off as a branch on oak tree at the back of my workshop. It was cut by an arborist with a chain saw and logged and stored for 2 years in my wood pile, before I chose it and decided that it would look nice if cleaned up and chopped to size. Treated with oil to bring out the beauty of the grain in the wood and sold with a smile to somebody I’ve met over a table full of my crafts or on the net where I have a little or no interaction apart from writing an address after a click of a mouse.
I showed my wife some new routing I was doing, nothing fancy, just a silhouette of a tree and its roots. We discussed how calming I found it to make and she called it ‘flow’. I’ve never heard of this before, not unusual, as my wife is very clever compared to me. Flow is a state of mind, I can only describe it as where my mind goes when woodworking, but it’s similar to when I was a child colouring in patterns for hours on end. Your mind drifts and you stop listening to your inner monologue. For a while all is calm and time passes without you realising, sometimes this ends when a cup of tea and a smile enters my workshop, others it’s when you finish the piece of work and yes, sometimes it’s with a cry of “are you actually finishing tonight?”
But it got me thinking about how woodworking makes me feel and how calm it makes me – don’t get me wrong, there are moments of frustration or even pain if my mallet hits the wrong nail! But the pleasure far outweighs the pain of a sore thumb or a splinter or the frustration of working on a new design or tricky problem.
I know my work is appreciated by many. I know my work takes up a lot of my free time. But I know why my mind is calm. I know why I sleep easily at night. I know why I can relax and deal with the day-to-day stresses of life. I have a place to go and be calm, a purpose I didn’t have before.