Managing Mistakes

Mistakes, design opportunities, forced revelations, screw-ups, whatever you call them, they are a fact of life especially if you are a woodturner. As with many things, how you deal with them says a lot.

Let’s consider, hypothetically, the moment when you come through the bottom of a bowl you have been working on all morning. The first thing to remember is that you get to choose how you are going to react. You could fly off the handle and blow up. You could swear and punch the wall. You could throw something. That is how a five year old who needs a spanking would react.  Or, you could remember that you are a rational adult, able to control your reactions to difficult situations.

I was at my local woodturning club enjoying a demonstration by a very well known turner in our area, Frank Bowers. Frank was demonstrating his method for making of a hollow vessel when in front of God and fifty members, he came right through the side. Frank laughed and said that he had planned it all along and wanted to show us how to recover from a common turning mistake. We all knew he was lying, but enjoyed his calm humorous demeanor. I took away an important lesson that day. A mistake may not be what I had planned, but it could be a good opportunity to grow and make the best of a potentially embarrassing situation. Frank taught me something valuable that day.

Choose how you will react to these kinds of mistakes in advance and decide on your course of action before the mistake is made. Tell yourself “I will take a deep breath and calmly consider my next move. I will sit down and think about how to fix it. I’m smart. I can do this.” For me personally I shout “Hallelujah!!! Another design opportunity. Let’s see what I’ll make now!!!” Otherwise, I could possibly choose one of the other reactions that I would rather avoid.

Mistakes are going to happen in turning wood, and in most other areas of our lives too. It has been said many times that you can’t control everything, all you can do is control how you choose to react to them. I hope you had a wonderful time celebrating our countries Independence Day because, wherever you go, there you are.

Here is my inspiration for this message:
Ps 30:5 KJV
For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
Ps 37:8 [KJV
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
Ephesians 4:31 NIV
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.


I have will be speaking at The Gwinnett Woodworkers Association Saturday Morning meeting on July 9th, 2016. My topic is Tips, Tricks and Secrets for selling your hand-made craft items. The meeting runs from 8am to 9:30am and is held at Peachtree Woodworking Supply in Atlanta, Georgia. Everyone is welcome. If you wish to sell craft items even if you are not a turner or woodworker, you will still benefit from this presentation. Invite someone you know.

I will also be speaking at the North Alabama Woodturners Club in Boaz Alabama on July 23rd, 2016. Everyone is welcome there also. Contact me for details if you would like to attend.

We will also be in the Peachtree Woodworking Supply booth again this year at SWAT in Waco, Texas on August 26-28, 2016.


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Savannah 3 Piece Carbide Turning Tool Set

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Savannah 3 Piece High Speed Steel Turning Tool Set

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Savannah 2" Roughing Gouge - High Speed Steel Turning Tool

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