The Joy of Woodworking

Greetings RWS members,

You are reading this because you love woodworking. (OK, maybe you are just curious.) You like to make things. You love the beauty of wood. You admire the beauty of design. Whatever specific aspects of woodworking move you, it
does move you or you wouldn’t do it.

But sometimes, if you are at all like me, harsh introspection leaves you feeling guilty about spending your time at it. It is a rather solitary pursuit. Shouldn’t you spend more time with the people in your life? Shouldn’t you spend more time and money helping others who need your help? I must confess that the internal struggle between the extremes of Hedonism – guilty pleasures, and Altruism – the selfless concern for others has been somewhere on my mind my whole life. I haven’t always ended up comfortable with my choices. However, I have recently had an epiphany. I have figured out what it takes to get joy of both sorts from woodworking.

Clearly, it gives me joy to spend time woodworking. There is the joy of accomplishment in finishing a project well. And there is the joy of the journey, like when a tool I have sharpened cuts like it should, or a setup or self-made fixture works well. (We can just leave sanding out of this.) That covers the Hedonist end of what I’ll call the spectrum of joy. My epiphany was the realization that to get the Altruism end all I need is to share that joy.

What I love about RWS is that it gives me the opportunity to get more of the Hedonist joy AND to share the joy. Whether it is helping out at a SIG, participating as an RWS board member, spreading the word about RWS, bringing stuff to show before our monthly meetings, or someday putting on a local workshop – I am getting Altruistic joy by helping others share in that joy. I can’t wait to engage with people at the Showcase. (And I am NOT an extrovert!)

And very recently, thanks to Terry Lund (see his article in this newsletter issue) I have started volunteering at St. Michael Woodshop. I have to keep my expectations in check a little, but I am really excited about the prospect of guiding some city kids through woodworking projects.

If you aren’t retired, St Michael probably isn’t a good option for you, but I only offer it as an example of my point, which is – You can have more of the whole spectrum of joy of woodworking by sharing it.

Al Kupchella
Chairman, RWS