I find that there are three different kinds of days in my workshop. The first is the productive day. You are on fire, baby! Projects are going together. Finish is drying nicely. Cuts are precise. Sanding is almost pleasant. You find every tool you're looking for the first time. You haven’t tripped over the dog more than once. In other words…nirvana.
The second type of day is almost the opposite. Your mind keeps going blank. You continually read the tape measure wrong. You spend 15 minutes trying to find the straightedge you set down, only to realize you looked at it at least once every minute you were looking for it. You do an assembly out of order. Your finish runs. And the dog develops temporary psychic powers and continually gets up and lies back down in front of whatever machine you need to use next. At no point do you ever do anything remotely productive.
Then there’s the third type of day. You never know when that third day is going to happen, but it always starts the same way. You are working on a machine, when all of a sudden you hear something that is definitely wrong. You slam off the switch. The dog hightails it to go catch the same chipmunk he’s been chasing for six years. And you say rather loudly (to yourself) “What the hell was THAT?”
I have found that the severity of the nervous breakdown the machine has had is usually in direct proportion to how loud or abrupt the noise was. And now, all woodworking stops.
When you do woodworking, you also need to have a rudimentary knowledge of machinery. The more you have, the more money you’ll save doing your own repairs. Fortunately, I have a fair bit of knowledge (translation: getting hosed on a machine repair is a great incentive to learn).
So out comes different tools. Bolts replace dowels. Wrenches replace wood chisels. WD40 replaces lacquer. And the smell of grease and metal takes me back to my childhood when my father would lose the &%$#@ nut under the #@%&$ motor while I nervously held the work light.
If all goes well, I get the machine fixed, the dog returns, and I continue working. If not so well, I’m shut down for a few days while looking for a part or trying some sort of MacGyver solution.
I learned early that mechanics and woodworking goes hand and hand. I’d rather make sawdust any day. But breakdowns are a part of life. And I would hate for that chipmunk to get bored.