Purposeful Prototypes

photo 1

Today, I found a picture on the internet of a simple stand to hold my phone and iPad.

I went down to the shop, took a scrap of 2×6 and cut two angled grooves in it.  Then some planing to make it look a little more interesting and to give it some feet.  Finally, I put it on my night stand and put it to work.

This stand isn’t finished.  Not only does it not have a finish applied, it still has layout lines drawn on the sides, tear out on the front and back, and plane tracks on the top.

photo 3

This simple block had some challenges that I hadn’t encountered before.  The angled grooves are something I’ve never cut before by hand,  and I needed a way to figure out how to make the “feet” without what I thought were the proper tools to do the job.

The only angle cutting I’ve done was for some test dovetails.  Cutting the angle while making a long rip was something new.  Then I had to figure out how to get the waste out without snapping off the front corner of the groove.

The feet would have been much easier to make with a rabbet block plane and I could have avoided much of the tear out if I would have taken my time, but perfect wasn’t the point.

There are so many things I want to make.  Things I’m afraid to make because they have techniques that I’ve never done before.  This simple project had new techniques for me and I now know I did some of them the wrong way, or at least, there was a better way to accomplish the tasks.  But, the point of making this was to have a stand to hold my phone and tablet, not to learn the proper way to accomplish a technique.

Too many times I find myself in front of the computer trying to figure out the “right” way to do something and I get paralyzed by all of the conflicting information.

Today, I tried something different.  I made a prototype.  I figured out how to do the techniques that were new to me on my own.  I made mistakes, and figured out how to fix them on my own and now that I have some knowledge, I know what questions to ask and what help to get.

So, if you’re like me and paralysis by over analysis plagues you, make a prototype and live with it for a while.  It may not be pretty, but it will give you that thing or piece of furniture you need.  You’ll learn from your own mistakes and have a better idea how to ask for help, and you might just find that you can make a few tweaks to make the final version better than your initial inspiration.

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