Last time I took on the old woodworking adage: “Measure twice, Cut once.”

I was not looking to trash the “measure twice, cut once” philosophy...because truly, it's simply an adage about making sure of something before you perform an irrevocable action. It's a philosophy about decision-making and to that end it has great merit not just in the trades, but in all facets of life. It is wise to be certain of your decision before acting. 

Where our craft has even more amazing parallels to life's decision-making process however, is understanding the nature of each decision, as we "spiral" closer and closer to the end project - a cabinet, a door or drawer, a piece of furniture .

If I were to write out all the steps to a finished piece of furniture -  from usable board to finished part - the spiraling process continues in much the same format .

Working from finished parts to assembled product, disassemble, finish prep, finishing. Each of these major steps in the life of a piece of furniture can be subdivided as above.

There is a constant cycling through:

• Planning Operations
• Checking Operations (Measuring)
• Preparatory Operations (Marking)
• Processing Operations (Cutting)...and these operations are repeated indefinitely while constantly reassessing the original plan and making adjustments based on the results of previous decisions.

This is a microcosm of life in it's most perfect expression. Of all the work there is to be done in the woodshop, the hardest work is the decision making.

I have come to believe that mastery of craft occurs at the moment when the manual operations are so secondary, so instinctual to the craftsman that the decision-making is the only true work he experiences in any project.

While the master craftsman may rarely see him sweat, you never see him stressed. His mind is constantly working to reassess his plan at every step and decide what will happen next to manifest an end result that is indistinguishable from the plan. He is a true professional. He works with his mind...he labors only for the manifestation of his work.

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