A woodworking friend of mine has the most boring tattoo ever.
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It’s a single black dot – about 1/16″ across – on his hand. He put it there as a reminder. Whenever he sees that dot, he is reminded to stop messing around and get back to studying or working or some such.
This morning, I’m pondering a trip to the tattoo parlor myself. I need some totem to remind me to lay down my tools when someone is yakking at me.
This week I am in the heat of finishing a run of Roorkee chairs, and I’m down to the part where I am cutting and assembling all the leather bits. This involves hundreds (maybe a thousand) intense freehand cuts with a utility knife and punches. One miscut and the piece is spoiled.
For the last three days, I’ve been standing alone at my bench making these cuts. I have neat piles of hundreds of components. Zero mistakes.
Yesterday a neighbor came into the shop, asking me to make him a walking stick (he’s been using a tomato stake to help him get around lately).
First mistake: I kept working while we chatted.
Second mistake: I should have offered to simply buy him a walking stick at the drugstore a block away.
Third mistake: I installed a buckle on upside-down, and I had to then destroy and remake the piece.
Fourth mistake: I fixed the problem while he kept talking. My repair turned out to be half-assed.
Fifth mistake: I cut the belting for a chair’s thigh strap 1-1/2” too short, completely ruining an assembled $150 component.
I put down my tools and wished the neighbor a happy new year as he left, tomato stake in hand.
I know a tattoo can’t fix stupid. But you think I’d be smarter after working in group workshops for the last 23 years.
— Christopher Schwarz