Why do I show my mistakes?

I’ve been asked this question a fair bit lately, ‘Why do I show my mistakes and leave them in my videos?’

Though to be honest the remarks come in two flavours: ‘Wow, it’s great that you leave your mistakes in!‘ or ‘Dude, you suck, give it up!‘. Fortunately there are many more of the former so they drown out the latter type.

But I thought I would address it, as it seems that the inclusion of the ‘impromptu design challenges’ I face, seems to resonate with viewers.

There are many woodworkers which I follow on youtube, some of my favourites are Alain Vaillancourt (The Woodpecker), Matthias Wandel (Woodgears), Marc Spagnoulo (The Wood Whisperer), and of course, Steve Ramsay, (Mere Mortals). They all attack woodworking from a very different standpoint as any viewer would know, and are all amazing to watch. I’ve dedicated countless hours of my life to watching their videos. They all deal with mistakes in different ways, so I thought I might put down my thoughts on theirs first.

I love Steve’s channel for the way he constantly turns out new ideas and projects that are easy and enjoyable to follow, he is a born performer and knows how to speak to the viewer. I don’t believe he often includes mistakes in his videos for a couple of reasons (my assumptions only). One, he just doesn’t make too many mistakes; he is very experienced and plans his projects to a high level of detail, printed plans, templates, etc. And secondly, he has a lot of detail to cover in each video, so to keep it moving along he generally shows only a short part of each step. If you follow his video and his plans, you shouldn’t be making many mistakes either, hence, no need to show them. He does plenty of ‘how to’ videos though in which he shows common mistakes and recovering from them.

Marc’s channel is eye opening to watch. His projects are beautiful, well designed and well executed works of art. He doesn’t show all too many mistakes along the way of a project, but that is part of his amazing teaching method. He is methodical and organized, two attributes which help immensely when you are building.

Before he makes a cut, he measures, marks, sets his tools up, double checks, then thinks about what could go wrong, then makes a test cut, and then finally, makes the cut into the actual work piece. It’s a great system, very enjoyable and informative to the viewer. And a side effect would be that he doesn’t make too many mistakes during the project.  But, being the amazing teacher that he is, he even makes videos which are dedicated to showing you how to fix your mistakes.

Matthias Wandel has made some of my most favourite videos on the net. His mind is amazing, he has come up with some brilliant solutions to problems. He does make mistakes every now and again, generally because he is doing something new, but he normally shows what he has to do to fix them as well. Watching someone talented at designing jigs and tools fine-tune their projects is incredible. You get a small sense of the amount of effort that goes into each project. I think it’s also simply good sense for him. A lot of his projects are made with the intention that other people will also build them from his plans. It’s just logical that he should show the problems and difficulties encountered in the build, so people know what to expect and how to overcome the same obstacles.

Though out of all of the above and the many, many others on youtube, I think my favourite has to be the Woodpecker, Alain Vaillancourt. He has ingenious ideas like Matthias, brilliant editing like Steve, and is extremely skilled like Marc. One thing that differs on his channel though, is he shows all his projects build from start to finish, warts and all.

How many times have you watched him spend a painstakingly long amount of time preparing timber, cutting, measuring, chopping, only to have him say, ‘uh oh, I goofed up.’. The best part of that is he doesn’t stop or start over fresh, he fixes the problem and moves on. He is tenacious, trying repeatedly until he manages to bend steamed wood around a form, or fit intricate mortises together in a frame.

His videos are generally longer than others, run into 2 or 3 parters quite regularly, and a lot of that is because he shows what he did wrong and how he recovered. And that for me, is the most enjoyable part of his projects. He can make incredible, beautiful projects, but he is just a mortal, he faces challenges along the way. The way he can recover and move on from them though, is nothing short of inspiring.

Which brings me back to my channel, and the original question in a roundabout sort of way, Why do I show my mistakes?

Because I find it entertaining and I think other people do as well. As with most things with me, it’s that simple. I’m not a complicated person. I love when people make mistakes, I think it is fantastic, that is the stuff that we really learn from.

I get discouraged, I ‘give up’ woodworking on most projects, I’ve even cracked it a couple of times and walked away for a few hours to have a break, but generally, I come back and push through the project.

I’m in no way comparing myself to the other names mentioned, far from it. Their skill level is far beyond my paltry abilities, but seeing as I’m going to make these mistakes, I may as well show how I recover from them.

Mistakes are going to be part of my woodworking life for a long time to come, there is no getting around it. As I see it, the only way to continue enjoying the craft is to learn how to deal with the occasional error, fudge, mistake, screw up, cock up, and quite frankly, even the f*** ups; if I can’t fix them, I’ll never build anything.

So if you like when I show mistakes, awesome, you’re in luck, there are more to come!

If you don’t like it, well, sucks to be you I guess! Looks like you made the biggest mistake in coming to my channel.

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